CityLife Arts

Artists to receive economic stimulus funds from government

Artists can now apply for funds through the National Arts Council and the National Film and Video Foundation

By Edward Tsumele

The Creative sector, which has been battered by the effect of the lockdown due to Covid-19 and the consequent lockdown of the sector for the past eight months stands to benefit from the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme (PESP) that will see millions injected into the sector.

The agencies tasked with this clearly monumental task of injecting money into projects that will not only create employment opportunities but push the sector into productivity once again, are the National Arts Council (NAC)and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).

These funds are not a the usual grants allocated to artists for ordinary arts related projects that cover certain agendas that are not necessarily economic development driven such as social cohesion and community participation, but funds geared at stimulating economic activity in the sector. The creative sector which like other sectors, was left leaking its wounds as the lockdown hit the sector hard, bringing it to a standstill, leaving creatives out of employment, starving and toy toying demanding that government, particularly the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture act, and act fast to arrest the desperate and deteriorating situation that has seen creatives starve, fall into depth of desperation, some losing homes and cars as the sector along with tourism are the hardest hit by the effects of the lockdown of the sector.

Now government has made funds available for individual artists, organizations and companies active in the creative sector for projects that will stimulate economic activity as well as creating employment. Before the social and economic devastation brought about by the coronavirus, the creative sector contributed significantly to the GDP, a whopping R2.1 billion, making it one of the economic drivers in the country, and though its economic contribution is often misunderstood by the public at large, policy makers and politicians.

The announcement of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme, should give relief to the sector, especially as the past eight months have seen the an unprecedented organising activities by artists, coming together to form different organisations representing the different segments of the sector, as well as the founding of a new federation within the sector called South African United Creative Industry Federation (SAUCIF), as well as the creative sector lobby organisation I’m4theArts, whose newly elected President is outspoken arts activist and soprano Sibongile Mngoma.

“The creative, cultural and heritage sectors are invited to apply for a share of new Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme The Presidency has made a special employment stimulus programme available to the sector to be disbursed via the National Arts Council and the National Film and Video Foundation. The Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme (PESP) is geared towards employment creation initiatives for artists, creatives, heritage sector workers and cultural workers.

Rosemary Mangope CEO of  National  Arts Arts Council

This includes (but is not limited to) support to innovation in digitisation efforts for content creation and the dissemination and development of e-commerce systems. The funding opportunity will take the form of a competitive open call for ambitious, innovative, and creative projects. This stimulus allocation, a portion of which will be managed and disbursed by the NAC and NFVF, will aim to fund projects that will create the necessary infrastructure to have as a spinoff of work opportunities for artists, creatives, heritage and cultural workers across the country – in a sector that has been hard hit by job and income losses during the national lockdown. In particular, says NAC CEO Rosemary Mangope, the programme seeks to encourage innovation in creating and disseminating digital content and using e-commerce in the arts ecosystem.

“With the advent of Covid-19, the NAC has already been funding arts projects that show creativity in responding to the shifts in audience needs and behaviour brought about by the pandemic. This stimulus programme presents another exciting opportunity for the NAC to play a central role in the renewal and reimagination of the creative industries,” she says. “We are eager to see our sector thrive, and hope this programme will help reignite South Africans’ creative flames to produce excellent work and create jobs, particularly at local level.” Those in the creative and cultural industries who are eligible to apply for the economic stimulus package include but are not limited to:

● Cultural practitioners, creatives and heritage workers producing new work in all disciplines

● Community art workers who facilitate community involvement

● Art educators working in the formal and informal education sectors

● Researchers, art historians, librarians, archivists and ethnomusicologists who are working to document new and historical creative output

● Arts administrators who are tasked with ensuring good governance and those working in sales, marketing and distribution in the industry.

Mangope says that while the sector as a whole has been battered by the pandemic and needs support, a special effort will be made to support historically marginalised groups.

Stream 1

The NAC’s portion of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme will be managed through two streams: Stream 1: Many institutions and organisations in the sector are facing the prospect of job cuts as a result of loss of revenue. Organisations, institutions, SMMES and individuals/sole traders find themselves in a positions where they are struggling to retain their staff compliment. In this call the sector will apply for a wage subsidy to retain employees that they already have on their payroll or on contract.

Closing date for stream 1

Closing date of Stream 1: 20 Nov 2020 Announcements STREAM 1: 1 December 2020

Stream 2:

 This OPEN CALL is aimed at soliciting proposals from the sector that demonstrate opportunities to create work in order to get the sector moving and income flowing. The PESP acts here a catalytic injection of income into the economy that enables ambitious proposals that create multiple opportunities for employment and collaboration. These kinds of projects energise the entire value chain and have a multiplier effect. It is essential that the sector dictates what kinds of projects are necessary at this time and so we welcome ideas from the sector.

The NAC has taken direction from Treasury and DSAC to assess the proposals and funding requests based on the ambition and merit of the project. As such no threshold to the funding amount applies Closing date of Stream 2: 27 November 2020

Results of Stream 2

Announcement of Stream 2: Stream 2 will be announced in two sessions, if you apply before 14 November 2020 your project outcome will be known by 1 December 2020. If you apply after 14 November your project outcome will be known by 21 December 2021. For more information about the arts, culture and heritage disciplines that will be covered, and to apply for the PESP, visit, and

Please share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *