Daily Maverick

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At an online meeting on Sunday night with the arts sector, the National Arts Council apologised for how it had handled the stimulus package.

At a Zoom meeting on Sunday evening, the National Arts Council (NAC) apologised to the arts sector for how it has handled the R300-million Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme.

In the meeting, attended by officials from the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, Princess Celenhle Dlamini, the acting chairperson of the NAC’s council, apologised to the arts sector.

“I really do apologise for all of this. With each and every meeting we’re going to have, we’ll have to apologise because we really didn’t want to be at loggerheads with the artists,” said Dlamini.

Since 3 March a group of artists has been staging a sit-in at the NAC’s offices in Newton, Johannesburg. About 12 artists have been sleeping at the offices, with about 50 people present during the day delivering food and showing support, said opera star Sibongile Mngoma, who’s been leading the sit-in.

This was after the NAC told the industry that the money that they were to initially receive was to be reduced.

The guiding figure was adjusted from the maximum of R25,000 for organisations and R16,600 for individuals per job to R10,895 per job.
Another council member, Avril Joffe, said that she was “deeply sorry” that “it has gotten to this point. I’m also sorry that management hasn’t been up to scratch and that’s why we’ve had to suspend the CEO and the CFO.”
In a statement issued by the NAC two weeks ago, they said that the CEO Rosemary Mangope and the CFO Clifton Changfoot were suspended “pending an investigation in relation to the management of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme”.
At Sunday’s meeting, Lara Foot, the Baxter Theatre’s CEO and artistic director, said that the NAC’s council had still not told the sector the exact reasons for the suspension of their CEO and CFO.

“Today’s the day something else happens, not these long ridiculous protracted meetings. We need new leaders, leaders who know what it takes to put together a play,” said Foot.

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