Creative businesses overlooked during Covid-19 stimulus drive

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Despite most industries getting financial assistance from the Government to help them survive during the Covid-19 pandemic, Namibia Artists and Cultural Professionals were left to fend for themselves as they did not benefit from the Economic Stimulus and Relief Package.

Speaking at a panel discussion on Social Protection for Artists and Cultural Professionals in Windhoek yesterday, Deputy Minister of Education, Arts, and Culture Faustina Caley, shed light on the struggles faced by the creative sector.

“Many creative businesses did not benefit from the stimulus package,” Caley lamented, explaining that micro businesses functioning in the arts, culture and heritage sector, particularly in crafts, were left unsupported.

She said the Economic Stimulus and Relief Package, introduced by the Namibian government in response to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, amounted to N$8.1 billion.

“The relief package did not provide how they supported the Cultural and Creative Industries and its practitioners, which include practitioners in crafts, film, sound and light technical companies, theatres, galleries, arts and craft centres to mention a few,” she said.

Caley added that the relief package, as it stood, failed to outline clear measures of support for the Cultural and Creative Industries and its professionals.

“Considering that long-existing creative sector businesses and entrepreneurs seized operating or downsized, greatly due to the Pandemic. The cancellation and postponement of planned performances, events, shows and exhibitions as well as learning spaces such as the College of the Arts and the Arts Craft centres, further worsened the conditions for the sector which led the Ministry to work out some mitigation strategies for the sector,” she added.

The Deputy Minister further revealed that efforts to secure special provisions for the creative sector from the Ministry of Finance were unsuccessful, and her Ministry was forced to work internally to put resources together and manage to establish a N$5.5 million relief fund.

According to her, the fund is managed by the National Arts Council of Namibia with the aim of mitigating the pandemic’s impact on the arts, culture, and heritage sector.

“Therefore, the National Arts Council of Namibia financed by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture instituted a national response aimed at mitigating the impact of COVID-19, particularly on the arts, culture and heritage sector. This was to be called the Arts and Culture Relief Plan in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” she stated.

The Arts and Culture Relief Plan included a three-month Relief Grant Fund for Cultural and Creative Industries Organisations as well as practitioners.

Initiatives such as workshops and visibility campaigns were also launched to support the sector.

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