Whilst President Mokgweetsi Masisi has ordered that businesses who suffer financial losses as a result of the lockdown be offered a subsidy by Government, artists fear they will be left out in the cold.
In a campaign titled ‘I lost my gig Botswana, save the Botswana live performance industry – recognize us too!’ the industry has called on Government to consider their welfare.
With all music festivals and social gatherings cancelled for the foreseeable future, the majority of performers – ranging from singers, DJs, dancers, event organisers and MCs – have lost a large chunk of their usual incomes.
Highlighting their concern in a press statement issued on Monday, Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA) noted, “Our worry is the fragmented approach towards the creative sector which is the third largest industry by value and contribution to the GDP and hence we believe the sector deserves a seat at the top table.”
BEPA want Government to involve the creative industry in campaigns sensitizing the nation on the fight against coronavirus. The association will also ask Government to consider increasing local content on broadcasters to 70 percent.
Speaking to Voice Entertainment, BEPA Secretary General Sydney Nzala, better known as DJ Boogie Sid in music circles, was quick to reiterate the pulling power that many artists have.
“Artists and musicians in general have large followings, be it on social media pages or anywhere else. These followers don’t necessarily follow Government and or official sites or even the mainstream media. Thus we believe impactful messages can be spread by this very sector of people; the artist can be the vehicle used to spread these important messages!
“So we call on Government to use us as artists to engage the public and hence we too could make something of the lockdown since we have been locked down literally!”
BEPA further requested financial aid from the government in what they termed the ‘Creative Industry Recovery Grant’.
“We call on Government to use the blank tape and part of the alcohol levy to formulate the Creative Industry Recovery Grant and be availed to the industry with immediate effect.”
Reached for comment, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development (MYSC) Tumiso Rakgare stressed his Ministry had not forgotten about the entertainment industry.
“I can tell you now that we are working on a plan but nothing is finalised yet. Once we have finalised the plan I will share with you and the artists but something is in the pipeline for them that I can confidently confirm!”