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‘Summit an extravagance’

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“This is the second year that the service provider is organising the artists summit.”

Picture: John Hogg

LOCAL artists want the artists summit that is set to take place this weekend to be called off, as they believe that the money that will be splurged on the event is wasteful and irregular.

Over 300 local artists were overlooked after applying for funding from the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, where they were informed last month that there were no funds available.

“We do not expect any handouts and are working hard to make a living, although it is a constant battle to provide for ourselves and our families,” the artists said.

They pointed out that last year’s artists summit was hosted at a cost of R2.9 million.

“We will not be surprised if expenditure for this year’s summit amounts to between R3 million to R4 million. Many of us were excluded from attending because we are vocal about the mismanagement of public funds. We refuse to remain silent about money that is being deposited into undeserving pockets instead of uplifting struggling artists. The resolutions that were made during last year’s artists summit were never implemented. What is the use of holding yet another summit that will achieve nothing?”

The artists pointed out that the same service provider was repeatedly given tenders. “This is the second year that the service provider is organising the artists summit.”

Speaking on behalf of artists in the Northern Cape, Tebogo Matsie stated that they were accused of fighting the ANC because they were opposed to the hosting of the artists summit.

“The MEC for the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, is defying local artists by forging ahead regardless. A meeting was arranged with the MEC for Friday morning (today) but we are not certain if it will take place,” said Matsie.

He questioned the need for the extravagance of holding a summit when financial resources are limited.

“We will be happy to bring our own lunch boxes, we don’t need any catering or goodie bags to debate the challenges facing artists.”

Matsie added that the Northern Cape Cultural Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA) would hold a meeting at the Mayibuye Cultural Centre at 10am, to discuss the artists summit, that will be open to the public.

Spokesperson for the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Conrad Fortune, said 150 artists from all over the Province would be participating in the artists summit.

“The Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, in collaboration with CCIFSA, Kapa Bokone Community Arts Centre Forum and The Pride of Ubuntu Arts Centre, will be hosting the second annual artist summit tomorrow at the Platfontein Lodge and the Flamingo Casino on Sunday.

“The summit will create a platform for artists to discuss transformation and means to stimulate the arts, culture and heritage sector.

“The interactive session will see stakeholders afforded the opportunity to deliberate on the progress made in the implementation of resolutions of the maiden summit that was held in Upington in 2017.”

Fortune added that panel discussions would revolve around funding and development for the arts and culture sector, capacity building, access to infrastructure and markets and optimal operationalisation of the Northern Cape Theatre.

“Artists will also get the opportunity to showcase their talent during a music, arts and cultural festival to be held at the Flamingo Casino on Saturday (tomorrow).”

Fortune stated that the MEC would interact with the artists and discuss how they could be better supported by government and the private sector.

He indicated that the CCIFSA, Pride of Ubuntu and Kapa Bokone were responsible for inviting guests to attend the summit.

“These federations and associations who represent artists in the Province were involved with the planning of the summit, since the start.”

He explained that the department was contractually bound to make use of four events management companies that were appointed after concluding a three-year agreement.

“Who the appointed service providers appoint to assist them with the rendering of services for the implementation of the programme is outside the hands over the department. We have, however, stipulated that the service provider must utilise local service providers in the specific town where the event is held to boost the local economy. The artists summit is one of the events to be organised by one of the events management companies.”