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DA STATEMENT (article first published : 2004-11-30)

Indications are that the board of the National Arts Council has been axed and if this is, in fact, the case then the Democratic Alliance wants to express profound relief that the Minister of Arts and Culture has at last taken our demands of the past eight months seriously and acted on them.

This Board has failed to deliver the NAC’s audited annual financials, and was behind the suspension of three members of the division on what proved to be trumped-up charges. The suspended CEO, Doreen Nteta, had attempted to point out irregularities on the part of the Board, and even after she was cleared of all charges, the Board refused to re-employ her.

Delivery to our artists has been crippled by inefficiency, and promise after promise of funding has been broken the length and breadth of the land. The auditors informed the Portfolio Committee that the R8,4-million sitting in the NAC bank accounts should have been paid out to artists – and after all that is what the job of that division is – a job at which they have failed miserably.

The NAC made a shambles of the funding for this year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and as a result of their delays many of those wanting to participate were only told at the last moment that their applications had been rejected, which resulted in their being automatically black-listed from the festival for three years. The NAC has also attempted to censor works by demanding ‘changes’ before they would hand out the funding that they dangled like carrots before the eyes of our undervalued artists.

The Minister of Arts and Culture, Pallo Jordan, has told me that there will be a statement out from his Department “in due course” and it is the fervent wish of all artists in this country that we end this year with a thoroughly overhauled NAC so that we may begin 2005 with – at last – an eye on delivery.




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