NEWS & ANALYSIS

High Court orders artists out of NAC premises – DA

MPs say unlawful decision to break contracts awarded to more than 600 artists caused much misery

High Court orders artists out of NAC premises

9 April 2021

The DA has been made aware that the National Arts Council (NAC) has obtained a court order from the South Gauteng High Court effectively ordering all artists staging a sit-in at the NAC offices to vacate the premises.

The artists have been exercising their right to protest peacefully for more than 40 days by staging a sit-in at the NAC offices in an attempt to get answers from the council regarding promised funding from the Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme (PESP) to the tune of R300 million. The artists have told the DA that there had been no “stoning the building” as initial reports indicated. They have also indicated that they have no intention of leaving the NAC premises.

The NAC`s unlawful decision to break legally binding contracts awarded to more than 600 artists caused much misery. Many of these artists had already commenced their projects and created employment for others in the arts and culture sector when they received the NAC’s announcement of contract breach. The majority had also not received a cent of promised payment from the Council.

While the DA understands the pressure the Council, that started their term in January 2021 must feel, many of its problems could have been solved had the NAC decided to be transparent with the artists and engaged with them. Instead of forcing the artists from their premises, the NAC should rather seek to solve this crisis of its own making and speed up payments to artists.

Multitudes of people who were employed in the arts and culture sectors have lost everything. They do not have homes to return to and have no food to eat. The NAC has now robbed them of hope as well. This, while there are ever more reports seeing the light of alleged maladministration and corruption regarding the PESP.

The DA implores the NAC to see reason and rather engage with the artists. Most of them are artists themselves after all. The whole of the sector has suffered from the irrational regulations of government decimating the economy and the arts and culture industry during the extended Covid-19 lockdown. This has stripped many South Africans of the dignity of gainful employment. It seems to have stripped the NAC of a little more – their humanity and compassion.

Issued by Tsepo Mhlongo & Veronica van Dyk, DA, 9 April 2021