The National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN) has proposed various interventions for arts and cultural heritage sector to be revived and further requested the education and arts culture ministry to fork out about N$15 million amidst the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
“With the consultation of the line ministry, it reassessed the initial amount of N$30 million to N$15 million and of that amount, N$10 million will be used to support wage subsidies which include formal sectors and N$5 million for the informal sectors like independent artists,” said Patrick Sam, the chairperson of the council, further informing Entertainment Now! the proposal has been submitted and they are currently waiting for a response.
“It is proposed that the envisaged relief budget will be administered jointly by a special cultural sector relief task force on the Covid-19 which will be composed of the arts council and other stakeholders. The task force will be coordinated by the National Arts Council of Namibia and chaired by its chairperson,” mentioned Sam.
He said the council has a contingency plan in place to address and mitigate the matter if the proposed amount cannot be handed out. “The arts council’s intervention, in due course, will announce grants that can be applied for and aid artists, especially those who have lost income. We will provide limited support,” said Sam.
The Namibian government has an obligation to its cultural sector in terms of Chapter 3, Article 19 on Culture of the Namibian Constitution and Sam said it was vital the sector receives the necessary boost it needs to revive the industry and ultimately the economy.
For cultural businesses, particularly the film and design sub-sectors, the council has requested the finance ministry to provide employee wage subsidies, acceleration of due tax refunds to businesses, tax payment relaxation, until the situation eases and provide collateral to enable film production and service businesses to get loans from commercial banks.
Furthermore, the council has mentioned that during the lockdown, various countries have led interventions to support cultural sectors, which like tourism have been highly affected because of Covid-19. “An example we can give is that of Germany which committed more N$1 trillion relief package to its cultural sector, South Africa gave a relief plan worth N$150 million on mitigation plans to minimise the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sector,” he said.
Kenya dedicated more than N$350 million to artists through various platforms. “These interventions aim to see the continued practices and income generation of cultural practitioners and institutions and mainly to ease the negative impacts of the Covid-19 to cultural sectors,” stated Sam.
He mentioned this is to promote continued creation and to activate the sectors to ease the pressure and lighten the situation to the public safely using any means possible.
“Namibia as a nation must decide how much it values its culture, when it values its arts and how our heritage is of value to us. Our arts, our culture and our heritage are the most fundamental parts of our identity as people, but they are the least supported during times like these,” said Sam.
He believes artists and art organisations must continue to show their significance to society during these turbulent times, irrespective of how misinformed people can be about our importance to the nation’s wellbeing.
It is hoped that the motivations and interventions drawn will garner support to ease the current impacts of Covid-19 and strengthen the foundation for future interventions for the development of the cultural sector in Namibia.