Artists and service providers up in arms over non-payment for art projects

Department of Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa. Photographer: Armand Hough African News Agency (ANA)

Department of Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa. Photographer: Armand Hough African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 21, 2023


The Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts and Culture has been accused of failing to develop and pay artists organisations, artists and art adjudicators for their work.

This comes after scores of affected artists face a blue festive season as they are yet to be paid or have their projects funded by the provincial department following an aid and grant funding request in February this year.

Sources close to the situation said the payment delays -- communicated in close circles -- involve ordinary artists and some of the country’s leading personalities who want to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Scores of artists and service providers who were contracted to the department have not been paid.

According to “Showbiz Scope”, board members of the Gauteng Arts and Culture Council have not been paid for work they did in March this year -- adjudicating for the department’s funding call-out.

The online publication reported that the crisis involves members of the Gauteng Arts and Culture Council, an entity within the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, and Culture whose members are still not paid for the work done more than 10 months ago.

Some of the affected art administrators told “The Star” that they have encountered one promise after another.

There are also artists who applied for funding but their projects are still unfunded more than nine moths later.

One adjudicator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had been promised payment for his work for months on end but is yet to be compensated for his contribution.

“It is terrible. We are being abused. Now it’s Christmas time and some families will be having a black Christmas due to non-payment, resignations and ill treatment due to the failure of two MECs of e-government, sports arts and culture,” he said.

Thami Aka Mbongo, in a statement issued by the Cultural and Creatives Industries Guild of Africa (CCIGA), said the delayed payments have affected artists and organisations alike. The alarming delays and state of affairs within the Sports, Arts and Culture Department were unsettling, Mbongo said.

“This unsettling situation poses a threat to the festive season for practitioners in the cultural and creative industries in Gauteng.

“The entrusted department, mandated with fostering talent, preserving heritage, and supporting competitive events, appears to falter in its responsibilities, notably in executing the annual grant in aid funding.

“This programme, designed to propel economic impact, job creation, infrastructure development, education, skills revolution, health and safety and social cohesion, is plagued by significant shortcomings,” Mbongo said.

Mbongo added that this delay has jeopardised the work of some arts organisations.

“Practitioners and organisations, who diligently submitted their proposals at the beginning of 2023 and received approval, are yet to receive payment for their projects.

“It is unacceptable for practitioners and organisations to endure such prolonged waits, hindering their ability to create jobs for others.

“Unpaid board members of the Gauteng Arts and Culture Council claim non-receipt of payments since March 2023 for the crucial adjudication work on the department’s funding call-outs.

“This situation is deemed unacceptable, especially considering that, some council members are also practitioners, while government officials receive their monthly salaries on time,” Mbongo added.

Spokesperson for the provincial department, Tumelo Taunyane, told “The Star” the delay in the payments to arts organisations and board members are being attended to.

“There is no non-payment, only delays. All nine members of the adjudication council have been paid for their work, except for one person who still needs to submit the required documents. For others, the delays are mainly to do with travel claims,” he said.

The delays were due to system challenges concerning inter-governmental issues between three departments involved in the project.

“There is no non-payment; it was delays caused mainly by a change of system and challenges at the Document Management System.

“No department is to blame, government systems are inter-governmental and, in this case, three departments are involved in the process.

“Payments are ongoing, members continue receiving their outstanding monies. A run of payments went through on December 19 (Tuesday), and the next run will happen on Friday December 22.”

The Star