Taxpayers’ millions for jazz and jols
● The Department of Arts and Culture has splurged more than R300-million on 35 “flagship” music festivals and jamborees such as the South African Music Awards in the past three years.
This was disclosed to parliament this week by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, where a weekend pass sold for R1 299 this year, was the biggest recipient of the largesse between 2014 and 2017, receiving sponsorship of just over R40-million.
The department has also been throwing big money at events such as the National Arts Festival, held annually in Grahamstown, which was given government sponsorships amounting to R27-million over the past three years, while the organisers of the popular Joy of Jazz festival got a R16.5-million shot in the arm, thanks to taxpayers.
The annual Cape Town Carnival received sponsorship amounting to R10-million, while another popular music and cultural event, the Macufe Festival held in Bloemfontein, has been assisted to the tune of R12million over the past three years.
Limpopo’s flagship music gig, the Mapungubwe Arts Festival, scored government aid amounting to R10-million, while Kimberley’s Diamonds and Dorings got R8-million.
The Samas received R8-million while the Mbokodo Awards, “an event to recognise women who have shown leadership, fostered growth and made efforts to strengthen the arts”, has been aided by R15-million from Mthethwa’s department.
His spokeswoman, Asanda Magaqa, on Friday dismissed suggestions that the generous sponsorships amounted to money for jam.
“Lest we forget, these festivals offer artists a means of ensuring their survival by making a living. This is job creation and human capital development.
“It’s a serious job. Minister Mthethwa has made it his mission to ensure that the dispensation of ‘starving artists’ does not continue under his watch.
“For artists, participating in these music festivals, is a way of ensuring their bread and butter and is a significant means of sustainability. In his budget speech this year, Minister Mthethwa spoke of the Mzansi Golden Economy — a strategic programme for funding within the sector. The programme will continue to intensify the realisation of the departmental objectives of job creation, content development and human capital development in the sector.”
Magaqa said “flagship festivals” often grew to be self-funding once the government gave them a kick-start.
“Festivals are not mere spaces of frivolous fun for the attendees. Rather, they are . . . vehicles for forming communities and nations.
“It is Minister Mthethwa’s view, and that of the department, that it supports these festivals because they are a means of bringing South Africans from all walks of life together, and are an important vehicle towards the attainment of social cohesion by ensuring they come together to share the same spaces.”
Saxophonist Femi Koya ignites the crowd during the Cape Town Jazz Festival, which was subsidised by the South African taxpayer by more than R40-million between 2014 and 2017.