Home > Opinion > For Posers And Braggers

Macufe is bringing three American artists, is it not for the greater good of the country that government funded festivals are prented from paying the costs of bringing acts from outside the African continent?

A PERSON not particularly better informed may assume certain South African artists, especially those with the tag jazz on their necks, either stay abroad, are reclusive, difficult to work with, charge impossible fees or to put it in township parlance… ba choma.

Any of the above conclusions could result from the fact that performances by such artists at big outdoor gigs are as rare as an honest and sincere politician. It came as a pleasant surprise to learn that McCoy Mrubata, Paul Hanmmer, Sibongile Khumalo, Feya Faku and Herbie Tsoaedi are among acts billed to perform at the forthcoming Mangaung African Cultural Festival (Macufe) from the 3rd to the 12th of October in Bloemfontein. This cause for excitement especially since the tendency has been to employ mostly, if not only, the presently hip and happening artists with new albums.

Other top South African artists featured at Macufe include Mafikizolo, Jonas Gwangwa, Ringo, Thandiswa Mazwai, Zahara, Don Laka with Botshabelo Strings, Jimmy Dludlu, Max-Hoba,Victor Kgantlape, Press, Choko and Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mtukudzi. Coming from across the seas are United States of America’s Christelle Michele Payne, Earl Klugh and Chantay Savage.

That it has to take months or years for a South African to get to enjoy the live performances of some quality Mzansi artists is a matter to be concerned about. Which perhaps should lead to a discussion around the idea of quotas for festivals and or events that heavily rely on government or municipal funding for their operation. Questions that instantly comes to mind: are there any sensible reasons and or pressing needs for mzansi tax payers money to be used to pay for the travel, accommodation and services of European or American artists that come to perform in South Africa? Should the costs of bringing European and or American acts not be restricted to corporate sponsorship or private means? What are the objectives and who benefits (mostly) from employing such artists?

“The main and probably the only reason government and municipal funded festivals or events feature American artists is so that the officials get to hang out and pose for pictures with American or European artists they have (or their kids) adored for years. The idea is to show off and brag to their friends that they met so and so or their kids chilled with this or that “internaional” star,” says one great S.A artists.

One of Macufe’s main funders is the national Department of Arts and Culture (DAC). On its website it says to attain departmental vision, measurable objectives were pursued that include increasing access and participation of grassroots arts practitioners in cultural industries economic activities through training, legislation and international opportunities. Such could still be done maximally, not just according to the minimal requirements, by restricting the use of the department’s money to only fund local creative output. There’s no doubt that collectively the costs of bringing Klugh, Payne and Savage far outstrips the combined costs of hiring all the South African artists billed for this year’s Macufe.

The overall marketing and the offering of arts exhibitions, indoor performances, comedy festival and sporting activities that are supposedly presented as build-ups to the main Macufe could be enhanced further by the money that one can say is wasteful expenditure on American artists.To keep it local may play well into the `DAC’s strategic outcome oriented goals that aim to create 150 000 decent (sustainable local) jobs in arts, culture and heritage by March 2016.

Speaking at the recent launch of the 2014 Moshito conference, deputy director general of the department, Monica Newton said: “We (DAC) want something that serves the local music market. We expect Moshito to build markets and audiences.” Surely something cannot be right where state money gets used to service local music markets with foreign music that has absolutely nothing of cultural significance and nothing out of the ordinary to offer.

Back in 2011 a local procurement accord was presented through the trade and industry department with the intention to boost job creation by committing the government, labour, business and the public to support, consume and buy locally. The audiences’ support and enthusiasm for local talent will without any doubt be on display and unshaken at Macufe, as is often the case at such events. As per custom the ten day festval will conclude with the popular Macufe cup that sees PSL team Bloemfontein Celtics play Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday 12th October at Free-State Stadium.

Tickets for the Macufe events can be bought at computicket.

Leave a Reply