Whether you’re an arts, culture or heritage organisation that wants to retain permanent staff or contract workers, or you’re an individual or organisation looking for financial assistance to create new artistic or creative work, be sure to apply for your share of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme (PESP) for the arts, culture and heritage sector.
Set up to support the sector as it battles the effects of the national lockdown, this stimulus programme aims to kickstart the creative economy and encourage the creation of important and innovative new work that adapts to the realities brought about by the pandemic.
The National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC) will be managing and disbursing a portion of the PESP allocation for the sector. In light of the fast-approaching deadline for applications, we spoke with NAC CEO Ms Rosemary Mangope to find out a bit more about the PESP, the kinds of projects they’re encouraging, and the current state of South Africa’s resilient arts sector in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Creative Feel: The arts have been hit hard this year. How has the industry been recovering so far and what do you think needs to be done to better support the arts post-pandemic?
Rosemary Mangope: I think ‘recovering’ is still a bit ambitious. The extent of the damage that Covid-19 has caused to the creative sector is prolific. We are starting to see the beginnings of green shoots of recovery emerging through organisations and individuals who have opted to become digitally responsive. Master KG and the universal hit ‘Jerusalema’ is a brilliant example. Those who embraced digital platforms navigated the effects of the pandemic the best, I think. That said, a lot of the work that’s posted digitally has its own concerns – things like copyright concerns and exposure vs remuneration. What is the return for the artist? This is one of the things that will occupy us, post-Covid. We need to see whether people were able to survive through these methods.
CF: What kinds of projects are you looking to fund through the PESP and why?
RM: The programme is to get artists and cultural workers on the road to recovery. We are looking at funding projects that are able to create work and create jobs so that people are able earn an income and spend that money, so that the economy as a whole can be re-energised. Essentially, to get money into people’s hands is the main aim. This is also not a usual funding project that the NAC is used to. It’s a programme that is designed to get as many people as possible to earn from the work they create, and to help stimulate the economy, too.
There are two Streams to apply to:
Stream 1 is aimed at existing organisations who have staff that they are struggling to pay. The aim here is for employers to retain their staff. The concern is about job cuts through a loss of revenue for these organisations, through the cancellation of events, or events that could not be feasibly make the transition to online.
Stream 2 is for proposals from the creative sector. The aim is to get income flowing through new projects and proposals that create multiple opportunities for collaboration and employment. That’s key. We are looking for projects that energise the value chain and have a multiplier effect.