South African artists unite in an unprecedented move

Nominations now open for leadership positions

By Edward Tsumele

The fast growing artists’ driven organisation Im4theArts is fast consolidating its move as a formal organisation to take its position as the first genuine artists’ representative body that has no connection to any political organisation in democratic South Africa.

This body, which was formed by artists this year from a Facebook page started by soprano Sibongile Mngoma less than five months ago, has since grown phenomenally, and promises to be a force to reckon with. It grew organically from that Facebook page, attracting close to 20 000 artists from across the country, united by the feeling that their interests and expectations as artists are not being met by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC).

This is the department in government whose mere existence is based on the understating that it develops arts, culture and sport in the country by supporting the sector by allocating resources appropriately. Of Late however, artists have been vocal and highly critical of a department that is meant to work with them.

During the lockdown, the need for artists to unite became apparent when it emerged that artists are some of the worst affected sectors of the economy, and even the Covid-19-Fund that the government made available to cushion the impact of the lockdown on the sector was found wanting at best, and at worst inconsistently allocated.

The majority of the artists who applied for these funds were left dry and out as they were declined assistance, for among other reasons not submitting certain papers with their applications. Some of those who applied and met the requirements, in a clear sign of funding policy inconsistency and incoherence, received varying sums of money, with some artists receiving as little as R4000, while others received up to R20 000 each.. Others were approved but complained of delays in receiving payment from DSAC’s R150 million Covid-19 Fund.

Generally, there was unhappiness in the manner in which the DSAC handled the COVID-19 Fund for artists, who were hard hit by the lockdown as they could not earn a living simply because the sector is generally in lockdown, even at Level 3 of the risk adjusted national lockdown.

These grievances and the realisation that the sector needs to be united under an independent, artists driven body, propelled the artists into action as they kept on working hard during the lockdown to formalise Im4theArts as a legal entity.

This formalisation process included opening up applications for artists to formally be admitted into the fold of the organisation, drawing up the constitution, which was approved by members last week Friday, as well as organising a winter school to thrash out policy issues.

The spirit of hard work and unity among artists across race, class, political beliefs and disciplines, often areas that traditionally divide the artists’ body in the country, is unprecedented in post-Apartheid South Africa. Disciplines represented range from visual art, theatre, literature, music, dance, arts policy specialists, arts producers, promoters to communication specialists, among others, making the oragnisations to stand out as the most representative in the country with regards to the arts value chain in recent history.

Right now, the final leap for the organisation is to replace the Interim National Steering Committee with a substantive leadership, which is currently being voted into various leadership positions this week.

Nominations for top leadership positions were opened to the membership for nominations yesterday, July, 28.


“This is to invite signed-up, full members of Im4theArts to nominate any other full members of Im4theArts to the positions of President, Chairperson or Deputy Chairperson.

Full members are those who have indicated that they agree to the Vision, Mission, Values and Aims of Im4theArts, and/or who have indicated that they agree to the Constitution.

Associate members are non-South Africans living abroad, individuals employed in any government department responsible for arts and culture and supporters of the arts who are not themselves practitioners or administrators within the arts, and are not eligible for nomination or to nominate anyone.

The Constitution requires that at least two of the three positions are filled by individuals from different provinces and that at least one of them has to be filled by a woman.

Each nominee is to agree to be nominated before the nomination is submitted, and each nomination is to have a seconder (at least one other Im4theArts full member) who supports the nomination besides the person who does the nomination.

Nominations for each position are to be submitted on separate nomination forms.

Im4theArts members may nominate others for more than one of these positions, but not more than one person for any position.

No Im4theArts member may nominate her/himself; those keen to serve on the NSC may recruit members to nominate them and to second their nomination. Each nomination is to be submitted separately by the nominator on this link: and are to reach Im4theArts by 15:00 on Friday 31 July 2020. If you have any issues or questions, contact us on,,” the organization said in a statement released to members on Tuesday, July 28.

However in this tussle for limited resources during these times of uncertainties and difficulties for the economy, DSAC maintains that it has played its role in alleviating some of the difficulties experiences by artists and athletes through disbursing the R150 million to qualifying applicants.

.Disclosure: Edward Tsumele is a member of Im4theArts. He writes here in his capacity as editor and publisher of CITYLIFE/ARTS, a specialist publication that focuses on publishing visual art, theatre and literature content.

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