society

March 7, 2022

KABELO MASOABI

2 min read

Establishment of Arts Council necessary for arts sector

Establishment of Arts Council necessary for arts sector

Local artiste, Rethabile 'Nai aka Omali Themba

Story highlights

  • Local artistes want to benefit directly from national budget allocation
  • Tourism ministry identified as one of the key pillars of economic growth

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ARTISTES from different art forms continue to press for the establishment of an arts council which they contend is necessary for monitoring national budget allocations to different associations.

Represented by their organisations that fall under the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture (MTEC), these artists want a council that will directly administrate their sector, among other things.
The associations are of the view that, even if their ministry receives increased budget allocation, it might not do them any good unless the government moves to establish the council they envisage.
“Even if the budget is increased by 100%, arts are going nowhere unless there is a clear policy as to how much each sector is allocated and that can be done through the council we are referring to," President of the Lesotho Music Rights Association, Sechaba Moqoko said.  

Last week, the Finance of Minister, Thabo Sophonea, announced that the government's total expenditure estimates is proposed at M24.8 billion of which the culture ministry is allocated M75 794 391 (up from last year’s M79 135 798).
The government has among others identified the ministry as one of the key pillars in its quest to diversify the economy and stimulate growth.
However, the different organisations affiliated to the ministry said the government needed to do more than just allocate money in order to encourage the growth in the arts sector.
“That huge amount allocated to the ministry covers a lot of things," added Thabang Maoela, President of the Lesotho Culture and Traditional Sports Association (LCTSA).

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“Unless an arts council is established, we will not know what happened to the budgeted funds as has been the case in the past," he said.
Local artistes have been amongst the most stuck without incomes since the first lockdown in March 2020 when the government closed public bars and suspended live performances to arrest the spread of Covid-19. 
As part of its efforts to provide them with Covid-19 relief, the government had donated food parcels to the artistes.
The Prime Minister’s office on March 3, 2021 handed over a package including a bag of 12,5 kg of maize meal and 5kg of beans to 281 DJs based in Maseru.

The artistes however, said while the gesture might have been well-meant, it was an insult to them.

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