Dozens of South African artists on Wednesday staged protests against the country’s Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, demanding a US$35 million grant as relief income following shutdown of theatres and other performance venues in the country.In addition, the artists requested the government to ease the lockdown on performance venues by allowing them to have 70% seating capacity protocols to allow them earn some income.
The artists, who took to the streets in a protest march to parliament in Cape Town, demanded the payment of their own artist’s relief funds as government had done for other sectors of the economy.
The artists said due to the government’s closure of state and private venues for entertainment under the lockdown, the culture industry was on the brink of collapse.
Baxter Theatre artistic director Mdu Kweyama called for urgent dialogue between the government and the leaders and employees of the arts sector.
“The minister of culture has failed to support the artists, independent and semi-independent theatres and organisations during the time of the pandemic,” Kweyama said.
He added: “The current situation and lack of guidance of the department does not only affect the big theatre houses, but also the work of smaller and important community organisations.”
Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said her ministry has “taken their proposals to the government, which is favourably looking at the reopening of the entire economy — including the creative economy.”