About 15, 000 artists who had filed to participate in the annual President’s Competitions will each receive a P1, 000 monthly relief from government over a period of three months.
The support will cover the months of April, May and June. The arrangement comes after the 2020 competitions were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A brainchild of former President Ian Khama, the President’s competitions have attracted a large number of participants in the past, also impacting positively on the livelihood of many young people.
Briefing the media about his ministry’s interventions during this period Monday, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Tumiso Rakgare said they have set aside P70.2 million solely to relieve artists, athletes and youth businesses from the COVID-19 effects.
The creation of the relief fund follows a back-and-forth engagement between government and stakeholders on the matter that resulted in some delays. Rakgare admitted that they took a long time to respond to this, but they understand creatives’ plight. He said the reason it took some time was because they had to discuss and make final decisions.
“Some say we are late, but we knew that this help will eventually come,” he said. He said for the ministry that was dominated by the youth, there was not a lot of income because this was the most affected sector.
“We thank the President and the Ministry of Finance for responding swiftly to this situation. There will be thorough evaluation before issuing money,” he acknowledged. Rakgare stated that plans have also been made to include all artists who were part of the competitions in the relief window.
He said although the P1, 000 relief amount was not close to
Rakgare also said his Ministry would pay professional artists who were members of the Copyright Society Of Botswana (COSBOTS) P2, 500 each for a period starting April while members of their bands or support staff such as dancers, guitarists and back-up singers would each receive P1, 000. According to Rakgare, there were over 900 artists registered with COSBOTS.
He said promoters would also receive similar assistance to professional artists.
However, the minister said those who had benefited from the government wage subsidy would not be eligible to benefit from the new initiative. Meanwhile, Rakgare said he was impressed with the use of local content by broadcasters during this period. He added that while it was not entirely enough, local broadcasters have reacted well to the current situation by increasing local content.
“We would like to have 70% local and 30% international because that’s how artists will benefit. However, this needs all stakeholders to pull together,” he said.