Answers to your questions on urgent relief initiative to face the covid-19 pandemic:

1. NASCAM wrote to the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture in April 2020, requesting the Minister see NASCAM and its representatives on how the Government could provide an emergency income grant or financial assistance to all artists in the country due the covid-19 crisis, this was in line with UNESCO and CISAC when they made a call to all Governments around the world to help the creative industries as it was heavily affected by the pandemic.
The Minister has responded to our call and are aware that the Minister had already been preparing something in this regard, NASCAM was happy to receive the invitation to attend the launch of the urgent relief initiative to face the covid-19 pandemic crisis that shutdown almost all performances and artists’ recording sessions. It was explained that the urgent funding will be provided through the National Arts Council and all artist who are members of the NAC will be allowed to apply by submitting a project proposal to the Council and the committee will evaluate the project and thereafter if the applicants have met the criteria, then the funds will be made available.

2. The NAC has announced how the artists should apply to get the funds, the move was applauded by many but it has raised questions amongst artists. They asked why they should send proposals for projects while the funds were availed for emergency income relief during these hard times where they cannot conduct their usual creative activities due to the covid-19? The Artists felt that they were not consulted on how they should receive their urgent relief funds and the NAC was supposed to consult and pronounce themselves clearly with details on how the fund will reach the masses that have been affected by the pandemic. The older artists have no knowledge on how to come up with project proposal and have indicated to us that they are hungry and they need food or money to buy their basic needs.

3. These were one of the questions raised during the Ministry’s launching ceremony, that how this urgent relief fund will reach all the country’s corners? It is already a challenge to an Artist living in Zambezi, Opuwo and other far remote areas, and those are not able to put proposals together. I think there should be options to choose which one would be suitable for the artists to apply for, in order to get the urgent funds, this is an urgent emergency income funding to help artists and that should be treated as such that is to relief a burden that our artists are facing.

4. NASCAM’s operational expenses have also been affected by the COVID-19, and we have tried to request for urgent assistance by the Government as well, and the National Arts Council indicated that they will avail N$ 150,000 for NASCAM administrative costs and this won’t be able to cover many expenses at all, but we have to appreciate what the Ministry has made available, and if we do not receive any assistance in the coming weeks, then NASCAM will have no choice, but also close down the office operations until such a time that the entertainment business opens up again.

5. NASCAM is appealing to all business sectors to see how they can meet our members halfway during this hard time of their life. Our artists need food, they have houses to pay rent, some need medical treatment, they have families to feed.

6. NASCAM is also requesting all town councils and shopping malls to avail open spaces at no charge for artists to perform with social distancing measures and the members of the public can offer what ever they can to those artists performing. It is most frustrating and heartbreaking as an organisation to receive calls from both young and old artists asking us for assistance, knowing that our hands are tied and there is not much we are able to do at this particular juncture.

As compiled by: John Max, NASCAM