Why Government stopped funding the 'Controversial' Naledi Theatre Awards

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21 Jun 2008

The Minister of Arts & Culture, Dr Z. Pallo Jordan told Parliament that his Department could not fund the Naledi Theatre Awards during the 2007/08 because “there were no sufficient funds.”

The Democratic Alliance’s Mrs. Desiree van der Walt asked Minister Jordan when his Department withdrew its sponsorship of this year’' Naledi Theatre Awards and what were the reasons given to the organizers for that.

In a written reply to Mrs. van der Walt, Minister Jordan said the Department had funded the Naledi Theatre Awards since 2005 to assist the sector to establish a recognized token of merit to be given to theatre practitioners annually.

"From the onset, we explained to the organizers that this was seed money to assist the award to take off.

"After this was achieved, the theatre sector, like all the others, was expected to fund the awards itself through sponsorship, fundraising or even self-generated funds," said Minister Jordan.

In fact, during 2007 financial year, the Minister had a meeting with the organisers where, once again, he advised organizers that the Department had no funds designated for funding the awards.

"We had no funds designated for funding annual theatre awards. Thus it was imperative that the theatre sector finds funds elsewhere.

"Since then we have not put up the money for the awards because we did not have it," said Minister Jordan.

The organizers of the Naledi Theatre Awards were duly informed in October 2007 that the Department did not have funds to support the awards.

"It is not true that funding for the Naledi Theatre Awards were withdrawn.

"Instead, for two consecutive financial years the Department had found funds to assist the organizers get the awards started as they were advised from the outset.

"The initial funding was a temporary arrangement to help them get off the ground. Thus when the Department could no longer fund the awards, the organizers were advised accordingly," said Minister Jordan.

The Minister explained that his Department uses a number of criteria to determine funding of initiatives in the arts and culture sector.

"We have a number of cultural institutions and funding bodies, for example, which are awarded annual grants voted by Parliament.

"Such funding is also determined by the Department's own policies and the Government’s programme of action spelt out in the President’s State of the Nation Address at the beginning of each parliamentary year," said Minister Jordan.

He also added that artistic merit was a major criterion for funding proposals.

"Funding proposals received by the Department and the Ministry that are congruent with the Government programme of Action may be funded on the basis of merit.

"But it is the availability of funding during a financial year that will, in the last instance, determine whether or not a particular proposal is funded," said Minister Jordan.

For further information, call Sandile Memela, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Arts & Culture at 082 800 3750 or
Premi Appalraju, Media Liaison Officer at 082 903 6778.