Government probes means to support COVID-19 affected arts industry
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease, arts and cultural events in Namibia, including visual arts exhibitions, music launches, musical, dance and theatrical performances, craft markets, as well as learning spaces, such as the College of the Arts came to an indefinite temporary standstill.
In response to this, the Directorate of Arts in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, announced with input received from its stakeholders, they are currently working on modalities and mechanisms to support the sector.
Deputy Director of Arts Promotion & Creative Industry Development, M’kariko Amagulu said, however, the first area of action is to get government’s leadership to recognise the Cultural and Creative Industries sector and for the Ministry of Finance to identify the sector, as a ‘hard hit’, and therefore consider businesses from the within the sector to also benefit from the Economic Stimulus and Relief Package.
“The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, together with its art institutions, is busy establishing mechanisms to provide support through grants to support individuals and non-profit arts organisations to enable artistic projects that mitigate Covid-19 and to offer a window of therapy and entertainment during this uncertain time,” Amagulu said.
Meanwhile, Amagulu confirmed that the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture through its agencies like the National Art Gallery of Namibia, National Arts Council of Namibia and National Theatre of Namibia, have not cancelled workshops, performances, exhibitions, grants and bursaries.
“Commitments to those activities remain and they will be supported, although most of the activities, except bursaries, have been postponed to later dates,” Amagulu said.
Amagulu added that the Directorate of Arts and its institutions are also currently interrogating other avenues and methods of carrying out activities and thus supporting artists, such as using broadcast and digital platforms to ensure on-going creativity and to continue serving the public.
According to Amagulu, the Ministry is willing to discuss possible means and alternative methods to assist artists during this period. It is, however, also expected that artists should also interrogate and come up with innovative approaches for carrying out their work.
“Going forward, I think more of our artists will also have to begin thinking out of the box to grow and reach more audiences and therefore consumers of their products and services, using online platforms and not just rely on one source of funding, one market and minimal spaces for art practices and execution,” Amagulu said.