The Nelson Mandela Bay artists will march to the City Hall in Port Elizabeth on the 24th of May to submit their memorandum of demands to the municipality. This march is aimed at demonstrating the challenges that the artists are facing, including finances.
One of the organizers of the march, Mongezi Ncwadi (37), says that as artists, they are seen only as entertainers and that they are not taken seriously by the municipality. He says that they cannot even make a living out of the beautiful art work that they produce because there is insufficient support and recognition from the government.
These artists say that their payment for Iphulo Performing Festival which was held at the Port Elizabeth Oprah House from 21st to 25th of March was delayed. Ncwadi says that they went to the Oprah House to ask what was going on with their payment and they were told that the municipality was at fault.
They decided to go to the Nelson Mandela Bay Arts Council – a structure which was established in 2014 to deal with art related issues in the metro. However, when they met with the council, and in addition discussed other unresolved issues in the industry – they then resolved that they will draft all the problems that they have experienced and submit them to the municipality.
Asked about why they chose to do this in a way of a march, Ncwadi said that they have engaged meetings trying to address their issues but unfortunately, they were never successful. He said they want the public to see that the art industry is suffering and that they need to be supported so that the industry can grow.
Mongezi Ncwadi also said that, ‘there are many artists who gave up in art and now they are general workers because they could not make a living out of art work.’ As well, he added that there are many other sectors and departments that can benefit from art. He made examples about transport saying that if for example there are many arts festivals, the transport and accommodation sector and many other businesses could well benefit. “We urge the municipality to invest in the art industry”, he said.
Each artist is expected to at least come with five of his/her supporters to the march that will start from Donkin, Central to the City Hall. More than 200 artists from around the Nelson Mandela bay are expected to join the march.
Mongezi Ncwadi said that they will not stop until their problems are solved.