Defend Truth


Lavish award ceremonies can come later, first put in place proper support for creatives


Tebogo Moalusi is a member of the national coordinating team of Rise Mzansi. Rise Mzansi is building a movement of patriotic South Africans by organising, mobilising and empowering citizens.

Once the structural elements of a thriving creative sector are in place, discussions about award ceremonies can commence. The harsh reality is that many actors and crew are unable to afford transport home after receiving awards.

The landscape of South African sport, arts and culture mirrors the chaos found in many sectors – plagued by patronage, corruption and incompetence. In this milieu, where cadre deployment often trumps merit, the government’s push for the establishment of cultural and creative industry awards seems premature, especially within the arts and culture domains.

On 8 February 2024, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture announced the launch of comprehensive Creative Sector Awards, inviting nominations amid a lack of foundational conditions necessary for genuine competition and collaboration within these fields.

Fair competition demands certain prerequisites within an industry. These include organisation or support for self-organisation within the sector, ensuring mechanisms, pathways and protections guided by input from creatives themselves.

Without such structures, individuals and communities within the space face challenges, like actors and crew unable to afford transport home after receiving awards, reflecting the harsh realities of the local theatre and film industry.

These policies aim to provide creatives and cultural entrepreneurs with the necessary space to excel without facing exclusion or exploitation. It involves supporting organised labour movements among creatives, implementing income protection measures, and robust intellectual property laws to safeguard their work without stifling creativity.

Industry organisation is vital to preserve art and culture’s societal roles beyond mere market forces. The creative sector isn’t solely about generating wealth, but holds a deeper expressive and spiritual significance, necessitating protective measures for those involved.

Establishing a governance framework for protection should be followed by supporting the productive forces driving the industry forward, including producers and entities ensuring that financial resources flow into the sector. However, the lack of diversity and competition in local production spaces leaves talent vulnerable to decisions made by multinational companies, exacerbating issues like sudden unemployment due to funding withdrawals.

A thriving production environment requires a diverse and vibrant performance space. Despite three decades of democracy, Gauteng, with its significant population, lacks adequate theatres and live music venues, exacerbating the dominance of a few companies in the cinema landscape.

Investment in training and infrastructure is crucial to provide aspiring artists with the opportunity to develop their talents fully. Once the structural elements of a thriving creative sector are in place, discussions about award ceremonies can commence. It’s essential to ensure that individuals, particularly those in poverty, have the necessary support to pursue their artistic dreams.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Arts and culture a multibillion-rand industry, so why are our artists dying in poverty?

Our creative sector embodies the core of our national identity, requiring protection from corruption and preservation of its integrity. Rather than prioritising award ceremonies, addressing foundational issues is paramount.

Rise Mzansi advocates for bridging the gap between our current state and the aspirations for award ceremonies while emphasising the importance of nurturing talent and providing equitable opportunities.

The eagerness to prioritise ceremonies over addressing foundational issues underscores the need for new leadership and innovative solutions in the realms of creativity, culture and sports. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ben Harper says:

    Try getting a real job

    • Tebogo Moalusi says:

      Serving the people Mzansi is the most important job I’ve ever had. You should try it Ben. Be on the forefront of fighting the good fight, when our country is in crisis. It doesn’t get more real than that.

      • Ben Harper says:

        Oooh, touchy! How many people in the arts are actually able to sustain themselves? A couple of hundred? Maybe a few thousand at most? If you can’t afford transport home after an awards ceremony then clearly you’re in the wrong line of work and should, like I said, get a real job.

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