Tag Archives: Arts and Culture

WILL YOU ONLY CARE ABOUT US IN MEMORIAM?

25 Mar

When SA lockdown was announced, our entertainment industry shut down and those that do not have political ties or commercial contracts, suffered the most as the gig economy came to a standstill.

For decades we have seen talented artisans dying poor and then given huge memorials and accolades at their burials. As much as this is necessary we need to adopt the culture of supporting and respecting creatives whilst they are still alive. The new age of social media and content creation has changed the game, which is great but it has opened up a platform for mediocrity and popularity to dominate the space. A few years back, I had an altercation with a producer over a casting. My agency was casting for a local drama and the producers gave me the contract to look for suitable and experienced talent. We conducted a huge casting session and when I brought back the audition materials, my suggestions, the producers then said that they had earmarked certain celebrities to play the specific roles. Not only was this unfair on the actors who took their time, money and effort to work hard and attend the auditions, but these so-called celebrities also did not audition, have never had any training and the decision was made on their social media following. I lost the battle with a few talents but fought hard on certain leads, demanding that everyone come in and audition. Once given the space and the opportunity to improvise and do character development, the producers and the channel realised that that social media following does not equate to talent. Certain individuals showed that their talent and range is limited, they could not break down a script, failed in breathing techniques and were very bland in delivery.
My heart still goes out to that talent who had used their finances to catch public transport, learn lines and attend the auditions with the hope of fulfilling their dreams. It is that group of creatives, who have suffered the most during the lockdown. Many applied for funding through various apartments, some of us received a once-off payment of a few thousand rands, which in my case, I was able to provide groceries and supplies for my mother. However, many have not been as successful and then some have been given millions of rands, as they have political affiliations and we know how patriarchy works.

This week, the musician, Chicco, wrote an open letter to the known abuser, Arthur Mafokate, please see below.

A few days later, The Daily Sun printed an article that another singer, Chomee received R2 million rand from NAC.
https://www.dailysun.co.za/Celebs/shock-over-chomees-millions-20210324

At the beginning of March, the opera singer Sibongile Mngoma staged a sit-in at The National Arts Council requesting answers about the presidential employment stimulus programme (Pesp). This was set at R300 Million.
The NAC council have suspended the CEO Rosemary Mangope and CFO Clifton Changfoot pending an investigation about the management of the R300m Pesp.
Julie Diphofa has been appointed as the acting CEO, who has been a senior official at the NAC for over 20 years and Reshma Bhoola as the acting CFO.

As activists, we have made contact with Sis Sibongile and tried to provide support where we can but in reality, we know that the guilty parties will not be held accountable.

This week was such a sombre moment for me, as I attended the memorial service of the late Noxolo ‘Noxee’ Maqashalala. This phenomenal artist and creative passed away a few weeks back. The beautiful ceremony was held in the downstairs theatre at the Market Theatre. Due to time constraints, I could only attend a few hours of the memorial, which had been planned for the full day.

I had the opportunity of meeting Noxee, whilst working in the film Hotel Rwanda in 2004. On one of the shoot days, we shared a dressing room. Although our interaction was brief, I loved her warm nature and honesty on many topics around women in our industry and following our dreams. I followed her career for many years and as it was stated at the memorial service, her work was so underrated and she deserved so many more accolades as an actor and producer, but unfortunately, this did not happen whilst she was alive.
Rolie, Nikiwe, one of South Africa’s prolific filmmakers and writers, gave a beautiful send-off, reiterating my sentiments. He also pointed out that mental health in the industry is real and now with Covid-19, we need to look out for search other.
The minister fo arts and culture was due to speak later on in the day but I had to leave. On walking to the parking, I was able to join a few warriors who were protesting outside the NAC, regarding the mismanagement of the PESP funds.

The irony of two of the placards read- RIP. WILL YOU ONLY CARE ABOUT US IN MEMORIAM?
and another… NATHI MUST FALL.

This chilling experience came minutes after it was spoken about at a memorial of an artist, who did not receive the right recognition when she was alive.

So what is the next step? Denying starving artists access to funding is another form of financial abuse. Awarding wealthy and connected artists, with millions of rands, whilst others suffer and die in silence is violence in itself.

If the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture must fall, do we have a suitable candidate, who understands our industry and will have our best interests at heart? We know he has a lack of knowlegde regrading GBV but are there other people who will really help. What can we do to save the indutry?