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MEC Hlophe addresses relief fund concerns in arts sector

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During an urgent virtual meeting with stakeholders in the arts fraternity,  Gauteng Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation MEC, Mbali Hlophe, addressed grievances and concerns over the implementation of government’s relief fund.

A circulating audio file in which he addressed his concerns was followed by an email from SAACYF Gauteng and other organisations in the sector.

In a statement, the department said the development comes during the MEC’s weeklong provincial drive, encouraging people to apply for the second wave of the relief fund.

Among the concerns and complaints of artists were matters of outstanding payments to qualifying applicants for the first phase of the relief fund, as well as the list of successful organisations and individuals.

“The MEC explained the process undertaken and further highlighted the fact that the department had to comply with government regulations in the disbursement of funds, including verification of the award process by auditors,” reads the statement.

Engagements with applicants, said the department, has led to the resolution of several issues aimed at addressing a stalemate on progress regarding the first phase of the relief funds.

This will see the department working closely with the structures in the arts sector on matters of mutual interest.

The art sector has been tasked with helping the department with the recruitment of artists to attend the roadshows.

“The department will affect payments to qualifying beneficiaries of the first phase upon finalisation of all processes,” reads the statement.

A follow-up meeting will be held with the department before the end of October to discuss the grants in aid and online applications.

The second phase is reserved for individuals running programmes within the sector of sport, arts, culture and creative industries, also targeting those at local and community levels.

“I am happy about the outcome of our meeting. It brought to the fore the urgency within which the matters in this sector should be addressed,” said Hlophe.

“Working with stakeholders in the sector, we will simplify the process, enable and facilitate wider reach and access without in any way or whatsoever floating government regulations.”

The Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of SA (CCIFSA) Gauteng said in the statement that it appreciated Hlophe’s swift response in dealing with the sector’s concerns.

Lesiba Mothoa, the Gauteng Provincial Coordinator, said: “We believe that the DSACR [Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation] leadership team brought by the MEC to meet artist leaders responded adequately to the challenges presented by the creatives and made firm commitments to resolve most of the critical concerns.

“We, therefore, support the drive by the MEC, with the support of other sector leaders and organisations, to go into Gauteng regions to ensure that more artists are assisted with all the information needed to ensure that they access the funds allocated for the 2nd COVID-19 Relief funding,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hlophe has held successful roadshows and engaged with stakeholders in the sector in the four corridors of the province: Ekurhuleni, West, North and South.

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