COVID-19 Pay Day for 15, 000 artists

Sharon Mathala

The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport, and Culture Development (MYSC) has promised to begin the roll-out of Covid-19 Relief payments to artists by the end of this week.

A total of 15, 000 artists will benefit from the P70 million pay-out pledged to businesses and individuals who fall under the Ministry’s radar.

Artists will receive P2, 500 for each of the months of April, May, and June while back-up artists will receive P1, 000 for each month.

The only criteria set out by the Ministry was that a beneficiary must be registered with the Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS).

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With local entertainers becoming increasingly agitated over the wait – the planned payment was originally announced in the second week of May – MYSC Permanent Secretary (PS) Kago Ramokate revealed the funds would be dispatched this week.

“We have estimated a total of 15, 000 artists who will benefit from the Relief Fund. I know there has been talk of delay but I can assure you that the funds have been processed and they (artists) will start receiving the monies by the end of the week,” assured Ramokate.

The PS stressed his Ministry is working tirelessly to come up with more schemes to help artists financially.

“We are also coming up with other interventions which will assist them to earn some sort of income during these tough times. I don’t think this particular assistance will come by again but we are working to find out ways in which the entertainers could make money,” he said.

However, music festivals have been ruled out as a possible source of revenue in the immediate future.

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“With music festivals, I think we will have to wait a little bit longer. The Ministry, however, is working in hand with the task force team because as you are aware congregations are still prohibited for now. But as soon as they give the green light considering the situation with the virus we will open up for festivals and the like,” Ramokate added.

Despite Raokate’s apparent skepticism, the Gaborone International Music and Culture (GIMC) organizers are adamant this year’s edition will go ahead.

In a recently released press statement, the GIMC team stated, “For as long as it is safe and possible to host live outdoor events before the end of the year, we promise you to host the event in 2020 and not cancel. There has never been a time in the seven-year history of GIMC that we have felt more compelled to support the creative sector like in 2020.”

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Traditionally, the week-long festival is held at the start of September.

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