Guest Contributor | Feb 21, 2024 | 0
Deputy education minister calls for social protections for artists and cultural practitioners
In Namibia, limited statistics exist on employment levels in the formal and informal markets, income levels, and employee contributions to household income in urban and rural areas, noted Hon Faustina Caley, the Deputy Minister of Education, Arts, and Culture.
According to UNESCO, the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) contribute US$2.25 trillion to the global economy and generate 30 million jobs worldwide.
“The decline in profit levels and the impact of the sustainability of wages are circumstances that required a response that could have cushioned the terrible impact on artists and cultural practitioners and their businesses. Additionally, to circumvent the lack of data, the Ministry responsible for Arts and Culture and the development of Creative Industries is currently investigating and working to ensure the continued data gathering moving forward,” Caley said in her address at the panel discussion on social protection for Artists and Cultural Professionals in Namibia.
The panel discussion, which took place on Tuesday at the National Art Gallery of Namibia in the capital, was attended by several notable figures, including Karalyn Monteil, Head of Programmes & Stakeholders Outreach Unit, Secretariat of the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and Milka Mungunda, Chief Executive Director, Social Security Commission.
Furthermore, Caley pointed out that the investigation would include the establishment of a formalized Integrated Information Management System for the Arts, Culture, and Heritage Sector, including the Creative Industries, to provide for continuous data collection and record on the sector, enabling the Arts and Culture Ministry to identify gaps and create appropriate initiatives to support the division’s growth, as well as the ability to measure its contribution to the larger Namibian economy.
She additionally suggested that if there were some special social protections for artists and cultural practitioners, “the damage could have been minimized,” adding that social protections can include medical aid, pensions, grants, and subsidies that will cover matters like unemployment, sickness, maternity, and old age.
“The Cultural and Creative Industries carry and keep the human spirit as it intersects with many other sectors. This is because it is founded on creativity, from which many things are born, including art and design, fashion, jewellery, gaming, technology, and architecture,” she said.
She added: “This perspective was especially enhanced after the declaration of the COVID-19 Pandemic by the World Health Organisation and the following subsequent lockdowns. In 2020 and 2021, all aspects of local and global life were negatively affected, particularly the economic sectors, including the formal and informal sectors, which were hit hardest.”
According to her, the COVID-19 pandemic brought an indefinite standstill to the activities of artists and creative businesses that required a directed intervention, “to which we are only seeing a slight recovery since 2022.”
As a result, the National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN), which is funded by the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture, launched a national response to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, particularly on the arts, culture, and heritage sector.
“In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, this was to be called the Arts and Culture Relief Plan, with a number of objectives: 1. To implement a Relief Grant Fund for CCI organizations and art and cultural practitioners over a three-month period, from June to August 2020; 2. To implement initiatives that included workshops and conducting visibility and marketing activities for the NACN and the Arts and Culture Sector, specifically the Cultural and Creative Industries; and 3. To host online dialogues to ensure continuous engagement through the Arts and Culture Sector, specifically the Cultural and Creative Industries.”