Athletes, artists miss out on Covid-19 relief funds

Sport, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa updates the nation on the Covid-19 relief fund for the sector at Ronnie Mamoepa Media Centre, Pretoria. / Siyabulela Duda
Sport, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa updates the nation on the Covid-19 relief fund for the sector at Ronnie Mamoepa Media Centre, Pretoria. / Siyabulela Duda

Sport, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa has expressed concern that many artists, athletes and technical personnel who applied to get a slice of the R150m relief fund did not succeed.

Mthethwa yesterday detailed how far the department had gone in helping the sector during the lockdown.

In the sports sector, 300 applications had been received by April 23, of which 93 were successful by the following day and payments were processed.

After unsuccessful applications were referred back to sport federations, the department received 493 applications from 25 federations.

In the arts and culture industry, Mthethwa said 1050 applications were adjudicated upon, 232 of which were recommended, 603 were not recommended and 203 applications were referred back to the department. The amount for which each athlete or artist qualifies has been capped at R20,000, he said.

"The number of people who were not recommended is huge, and we are concerned that such a huge number did not succeed," said Mthethwa.

"These applications come from historically disadvantaged communities, and it is people who desperately need this assistance. At the same time, through the adjudication panel, we have to do due diligence to ensure we adhere to the agreed upon criteria, but we are really concerned."

Mthethwa said reasons applications were turned down ranged from incomplete application forms to lack of evidence of cancellation of shows owing to the lockdown and leading to loss of income. He said these were important determining factors in whether or not one got funding.

"Remember in arts and culture we said we are going for those who have had their events cancelled," he said.

"We were specially concerned when the adjudication panel raised reasons for people not to access this funding. One of those was that the time for application was narrow so some people may have missed the opportunity. Also, because of the lockdown, some people have not been able to access information and communications technology so they could not apply on time to get assistance."

Mthethwa said it was easier to approve funding for athletes because they applied via sports federations, while the challenge for artists was that they were applying as individuals. He said a new window for applications was being considered.

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