The Democratic Alliance (DA) is outraged at the uncertainly cast over National Arts Festival in Grahamstown because the National Department of Arts and Culture has allowed R150 million of taxpayers’ money to simply disappear.
What is also a point of major concern is that the money was re-routed from a dedicated arts and culture budget to try and bolster failed 2010 soccer world cup campaigns, because those budgets were fraught with wasteful expenditure and mismanagement.
Quite often arts and cultural activities are sidelined to benefit sporting events.
Events like the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown are institutions in South African culture.
Nowhere else does one see such a diverse mix of almost all the cultures contained within South African borders.
The fact that the Department and the ANC-alligned officials within can allow such an injustice speaks volumes as to the ruling party’s commitment to the growth and development of arts and culture nationally and in the province.
The National Arts Festival has seen a solid year-on-year growth over the last six years with a 13.21% growth in 2009 alone.
The figures show that South Africans are increasingly interested in culture and the arts – even during the recessive economic climate of the past few years.
This year the national arts festival (if it happens) will run concurrently with the Soccer World Cup.
The festival can only benefit from this, as many South Africans that want to avoid the 2010 World Cup chaos, will consider going to the festival. What better way to advertise the Eastern Cape as a cultural destination to the many international visitors than to have this festival as an option during the non-game playing days.
The ANC in the Province has already ruined the Province’s chances of hosting major, if any, nations during the Soccer World Cup. We must not allow them to ruin our arts and cultural heritage too.
I will insist that the MEC intervenes to prioritise this investigation, makes sure that those responsible are fully punished and safeguards the funding for the festival.
For further information, please contact John Cupido, MPL on 083 336 6987