Heritage Day is a unique celebration of our cultural identities and traditions, all of which are part of the beautiful cultural carpet of our country. The IFP has always recognized the unifying nature of the arts, culture and heritage in South Africa and has actively addressed the need to preserve and promote our unique heritage and culture.
As South Africans, we are proud that, despite a complex and painful past, we have tried to find reasons to unite in our diversity instead of being torn apart by it.
In the darkest periods of history, people have always used song, expression, and the arts to transform their grief and fear into hope in search of a better future. Today more than ever we need the arts to elevate and unite the people of South Africa.
Tragically, the Covid-19 pandemic has seriously muzzled our ability to unite in song and expression. The creative and cultural industries, which contributed 1.7% of our GDP in 2018 alone, suffered a devastating blow. We have heard tragic stories from artists who had to sell their instruments in order to survive. In addition, this diverse industry is very vulnerable and prone to abuse as very little protection is offered to artists, most of whom are self-employed.
The pandemic has shown us that there is an urgent need to support our artists and creators. We need to innovate in helping those who hold the lifelines of our cultural identity and taking responsibility for their inaction on the government, which has promised to support artists. We need to listen to these artists and performers and come up with solutions that will help them and help them survive in these desperate times.
During the intolerable circumstances created by the pandemic, our artists faced the cruelty of corruption and gross mismanagement of aid funds. Earlier this year it was announced that 300 million ren, donated specifically to artists by the Presidential Employment Stimulus Program, has simply disappeared.
Where is the accountability?
On this day, as well as celebrating our culture and heritage, we should remember that our artists and performers depend on our support to survive.
We must therefore speak out against government inaction and demand accountability. The survival of the beating heart of South Africa depends on our ability to reach out to and help our artists.