As the year draws to a close, few of us would have ever imagined that 2021 would continue to be a year that the COVID pandemic would still be a feature in our lives. The arts industry in particular has been hardest hit, with the lockdown restrictions only being relaxed in our sector during the latter part of this year.
There is little doubt that the effects of COVID have changed and disrupted our lives, and through all the negative aspects, some of the positive aspects have been the ability to re-invent ourselves through innovation resulting in our artforms settling into a technology driven new normal. In certain respects, the quality of life has improved for some people as they have had an opportunity to spend more time in nature or outdoors, paying more attention to their personal health, doing more physical activity and spending more time with family and friends.
As we close of the year, the National Arts Council is pleased to have achieved the following milestones:
- Disbursed 99% of the R285 million Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme funds to 1,331 beneficiaries;
- Completed the adjudication of the NAC 2021 Annual Call for Funding in record time after receiving over 4000 applications (this is the highest number of applications received in the history of the NAC for a single Call for Applications);
- Announced a total of 284 successful beneficiaries to the industry and have already commenced with disbursements to approved beneficiaries who have submitted their compliance documentation;
- Awarded 18 International Bursaries to Art students to study abroad in institutions across the world;
- Disbursed over R79 Million in COVID Relief Programmes in partnership with the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture (DSAC) and are looking forward to completing the 3rd COVID Relief Programme within this financial year.
The NAC has also experienced challenges this year, related to the PESP programme. These were successfully resolved and managed (as evidenced by the 99% disbursement rate). Other challenges were related to the recent cancellation of the Provincial Partnership COVID Relief Programme, which had to be cancelled due to financial limitations. However, It is important to note that the National Arts Council in partnership with the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture has to date disbursed COVID Relief funding to 6,167 artists in the Arts and Culture sector to the value of R79, 482, 202.
The NAC recently completed its strategy which has a strong focus on Transformation, Access and Forging Strategic Partnerships to increase collaboration amongst the various Art Organisations. It is also the NAC’s aim to continue to strengthen partnerships with community-based Arts organisations, particularly those from rural and underserved areas, hence these are all commitments we are looking forward to implementing in the new year.
I would like to extend the National Arts Council’s sincere gratitude to the arts and culture industry for being patient with us as we navigated the various challenges and changes within our entity. Also, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the National Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) for their continuous support in ensuring we serve the sector diligently. Finally, to all at the NAC – Council Members, Management and Staff, thank you for your exceptional hard work and contribution which ensured that we ended the year on a higher note than we started.
As we celebrate the festive holidays and welcome a new year, the National Arts Council wishes you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a safe, peaceful, healthy, and prosperous New Year.
H.R.H. Princess Celenhle Dlamini
Chairperson of Council