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NC Theatre a ‘white elephant’ – artists

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A group of disgruntled artists has been camped inside the offices of the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture in Kimberley since last week. The artists, who have been sleeping on the office couches, are demanding permanent contracts.

A group of artists camped inside the offices of the HOD for Sport, Arts and Culture. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A GROUP of artists has been camping inside the offices of the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture in Kimberley since last week. The artists, who have been sleeping on the office couches with their blankets, are demanding permanent contracts.

They believe the Northern Cape Theatre has become a “white elephant,” lacking the necessary resources for programmes or to promote artists’ work. They claim there is “no proper plan for the theatre” and have vowed to continue their sit-in until their demands are met.

“Nothing and no one will stop us. They can do whatever they want, we are willing to die for our cause. If we get hurt by the police or if we are charged, we will get bail and come back to the department, no matter what. Our dignity has been degraded. Why did they have to call the police on us when we were peaceful?” the artists asked.

The head of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Keothibile Vincent Phiri, said the offices were being illegally occupied by the artists.

“The department is shocked and dismayed at the manner in which the offices of the HOD have been occupied by some artists for reasons only known to themselves – for such callous and unbecoming behaviour,” he said.

Phiri stated that the department had conducted engagements and discussions with the artists in good faith. “The group of artists reneged on the engagements by not honouring the scheduled meeting. They wanted a separate meeting to ventilate the same matters that were already discussed.

“Resolutions that were concluded with artists at the Northern Cape Theatre will not be changed or amended as they are binding on all affected parties,” said Phiri.

A group of artists camped inside the offices of the HOD for Sport, Arts and Culture. Picture: Soraya Crowie

“The sector is co-ordinated through the Northern Cape Arts and Culture Council (NCACC) as an entity mandated to support and advance arts and culture development in the Province. The department continues to provide a hearing and shares information as widely as possible. We have delivered on all fronts and on commitments made to the sector without fail during the most trying times.”

Phiri added that a clear plan had been developed for the operationalisation of programmes at the theatre.

“All issues affecting the sector will be attended to in a collective and responsible manner,” he said. “Our mandate and commitment towards our people and artists is a priority and we will continue to be on top of our agenda towards quality service delivery.

“The department encourages open and robust engagements, but strongly condemns any unbecoming, unprofessional and ill-discipline when matters and issues must be ventilated.”

A group of artists camped inside the offices of the HOD for Sport, Arts and Culture. Picture: Soraya Crowie

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