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PANSA ON NAC #2 (article first published : 2004-11-25)

Media Statement from Performing Arts Network Of South Africa (PANSA) – dated November 24.

The Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA) would like to congratulate and extend its warm support for the bold step taken by Dr Pallo Jordan, Minister for Arts and Culture, towards dissolving the Board of the National Arts Council (NAC).

The NAC has been in crisis for a while, and it has adversely affected the arts and culture sector with extremely negative effects on the morale, security and livelihood of artists. Allegations of abuse of public resources made against senior members of the NAC’s Board have made their positions untenable. We – and our umbrella organisation, the Network for Arts and Culture South Africa (NACSA) – have long called for Ministerial and Departmental intervention to restore sound governance and effective management at the NAC, and in so doing, to reassert the vision, integrity and image of this important public institution.

We are both relieved and delighted by the Minister’s courageous action that re-ignites the hopes and expectations that we had at the time of his appointment.

We note from newspaper reports however, that members of the Board – and the Exco in particular – have challenged the Minister’s request for them to resign, and it would appear that they are digging in their heels in the realization that their easy access to power and resources provided by their positions on the NAC is about to removed. We note the irony of their actions in moving against the senior management of the NAC a year ago on the basis of various allegations, and their stout defence of themselves and reluctance to do the honourable thing and resign when similar and worse allegations are made against them. We believe that the Minister must now use the power afforded him in the Cultural Laws Amendment Act to remove the Board once and for all. At the same time, we call upon him immediately to secure the funds, cheque books and access to the resources and equipment at the NAC to ensure that members of the outgoing Board – given the seriousness of the allegations against them – do not further abuse the NAC’s resources or destroy any material that could incriminate them in the period before they are finally dismissed.

The dissolution of the board of the NAC will provide an opportunity for a fresh start.

A fresh start however, will require an analysis of what has happened at the NAC over the last two years to ensure that a repeat does not take place. In particular, we propose that the Auditor General’s office conducts an audit of the full term of the recent Board, and that where individuals on the board have been responsible for the abuse of public resources or irregular financial activity, that they be charged accordingly, and that they be excluded from holding public office in the arts and culture sector in future.

Secondly, we call upon the Minister and provincial MECs responsible for arts and culture to investigate and evaluate the roles of current provincial representatives on the NAC, and to take appropriate action against those who have abused their positions on the NAC or who have not carried out their duties as required. We also call on provincial MECs and the Minister to ensure that provincial representatives on the NAC have been appointed in the manner prescribed in the NAC Act, and that they carry the support of the arts and culture communities in their respective provinces.

Thirdly, we believe that it is an appropriate time to reflect on the NAC Act and the amendments made to it over the last while, in order to determine whether it needs to be reviewed and amended to meet the current challenges and to address issues that have arisen during the first eight years of the NAC’s existence.

Finally, we call upon the arts and culture community to learn from this episode and to take note of the individuals currently serving on the Board and of their recalcitrance and their reluctance to give way in order that the NAC may begin to play the role that the arts community had hoped for. We call upon the arts sector to take proactive responsibility to ensure that a critical mass of individuals of stature, integrity, expertise and with a passion for the arts are nominated for the new Board of the NAC. Artists and their organizations can make a difference and need to take more responsibility for the sound governance and management of the sector and the structures that affect their lives at national, provincial and local levels.

Issued by PANSA NATIONAL OFFICE, Tel: 011 880 5486, Fax: 086 673 7002, e-mail: pansa@artslink.co.za or visit www.artslink.co.za/pansa




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