Lending our support to #Im4theArts

1 Apr 2021 - 10:30

The #Im4theArts initiative led by amongst others Sibongile Mngoma is a courageous and crucial step in the fight for the rights of working artists of South Africa. Over the years, professionals in the arts industry from artists to technical personnel, have been consistently treated with a lack of concerted care and focus by the Ministry of Sport Art and Culture. This has been evident in poor implementation of policy, incoherent and opaque funding initiatives, and slow delivery. The current pandemic has only revealed deeply embedded symptoms of a neglectful and mismanaged Department of Art and Culture. During the pandemic, the sheer vulnerability and precarity of artists has now come to the fore and even then, the Ministry (and its related bodies in the National Arts Councils and other state sponsored production houses) has barely acknowledged the extent of the crisis let alone manage and resolve it. 

The Centre for Theatre Dance & Performance Studies at the University of Cape Town has a long history in the development, education, and training of artists.  Our intentions are to produce artists of quality and integrity to serve our country and the world.  We are therefore shocked that this neglect continues and deeply concerned for the impact on our past, current, and future students.  We are dismayed that as a performing art educational institution this lack of sane and consistent throughput from student to working artist continues to be extremely fragile.  

As an institution we are saddened by the fact that artists have had to resort to the ends that they have. They should be on our stages, in our public spaces, our clinics and hospitals, working in an industry that has the potential to heal and nourish our country in times of distress and pain.  We acknowledge the need for such action to be taken to bring attention to the mismanagement of the arts that has emanated from the Ministry of Sport, Art, and Culture. In lending our support to these actions, we urge the Ministry and our Government to apply themselves to the plight of artists in a consistent and holistic way, and with urgency.