Iam4the Arts calls for civil society to support the arts community in South Africa and for artists to join in solidarity with those who are sitting-in at the NAC offices.
STATEMENT FROM THE IM4THEARTS NSC – ARTISTS LIVES MATTER: IT’S TIME TO STEP UP
Through its message #ArtistsLivesMatter, we campaign for society to step up towards sustaining and building a thriving South African arts sector. This sector is key to enabling us as global citizens to challenge assumptions about ourselves, the ways in which we work, and the roles we play in making a difference for a better world.
We at Iam4the Arts are stepping up because we must. We step up because we believe in doing the right thing in the right way at the right time. We believe that a thriving arts community creates sustainable work and ensures that we can take care of our personal wellbeing. We know that we can change perceptions by stepping up the narrative, dialogue and actions that demonstrate how and why #ArtistsLivesMatter.
But the arts sector is in a state of emergency. Right now, artists are occupying the NAC offices in frustration at the slow and flawed roll-out of the PESP funding which was meant to bring relief and support to those who have lost their livelihoods and whose ongoing precarity has been exposed all too brutally. The proposed reduction in funding to those who have already signed contracts with the NAC is but an example of how a government agency has failed artists profoundly through the proposal of this illegal action, and by reneging on promises. The debacle at the NAC, and the lack of meaningful reaction by the Minister of Arts and Culture, demonstrates the failure of government to support the arts and artists at this time.
Across the board, the chaotic and inadequate government response to meaningful engagement with this crisis has been devastatingly slow and ineffective, highlighting the lack of knowledge and understanding of this vital sector, its people and the role it plays in society. Further challenged by the global pandemic, the situation has imploded, with artists struggling for survival in a system that no longer motivates creativity and which provides no safety nets.
Im4theArts has a vision for a just society in which the contributions of the arts to human, social and economic development are recognized and supported. Our approach to support individual artists across the cultural and creative industries spectrum is expressed in a language of empowerment. Artists need to have economic and sustainable wellbeing and are hardworking, creative individuals who seek opportunities. Artists are radicals and trendsetters introducing new ideas or values, that move society forward. As creative entrepreneurs, they take informed and calculated risks, recognize the need for change and challenge the status quo.
That’s why artists join movements – to mobilize, empower self–reliant action, and step up in solidarity with each other for their success. That’s why artists lives matter and that’s why the whole of society needs to step up in support of their work.
In calling you to step up to support artists, Iam4theArts believes there needs to be a shift at government level – not only in the Department of Sports Arts and Culture where we support the call for #NathiMustGo, but also a step up by Parliament towards prioritizing the value of the role of the arts and contributions by artists and cultural workers and ensuring that those who are responsible for this failure of support to artists at this time are held to account for their actions. Im4theArts will continue to work towards a healthy and supportive ecosystem for artists and the arts. We call on those who can to support the artists who are at the NAC buildings in Newtown to ensure that our voices are heard at this time, with all current COVID-protocols observed.
Step up and join us.
ISSUED BY THE IM4THEARTS NSC