The department is aware of the frustration and challenges that are faced by practitioners of the sector. Government is doing everything it can while ensuring relevant regulations are adhered to. Hence there is a progressive approach of facing in the restrictions to allow for the sector to resume its activities and for creatives to practice their craft.
The department is committed in working hand in hand with all the stakeholder organisations in this sector. This is important as the department wants to listen and give the sector an opportunity to engage with the department on their concerns, and plans. The department is resolute in its quest of ensuring transparency and accountability to South Africans at large on the mandate and programmes of the department.
It is in this vain that on 3 September 2020, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture held a successful meeting with representatives of the 2000 – member South African Communication Industries Association (SACIA), to discuss the protocols developed by the organisation to enable staff in the technical and live-events industry to return to work safely, as well as ensure the safety of people attending events.
According to SACIA the proposed Safety Protocols were also consulted with the Department of Health and the Department of Employment and Labour, respectively.
The meeting forms part of a series of engagements the department has held with various sector organisations within the Sport, Arts and Culture space including CCIFSA in addressing relief of distress for the sector as well as its economic sustainability and impact of covid-19 on the sector.
Today’s meeting in particular, was scheduled to address the technical and live-events sector specific challenges imposed by Covid-19 and the National Lockdown. The meeting further deliberated on the Directions Published by the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture on 28 August 2020, on opening sport, arts and culture activities and the creative economy. Opening up of the creative economy is considered within the ambit of the government risk adjusted strategy to find the balance between saving lives and resuscitating economic activities.
SACIA presented the stringent safety measures and protocols they have put in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 at events organised by any of their affiliated member organisations. The measures include the prohibition of the consumption of alcohol at events with over 300 participants, and a further safety plan for 1000 participants (drive-ins) for the Departments’ consideration.
In addition to the normal National Corona-virus Command Council (NCCC) protocols, SACIA proposes to use technology such as electronic capacity monitoring systems to track how many participants are at events at any given time.
SACIA informed the DSAC that the organisation would proceed with testing of the protocols as soon as they are endorsed by government, in order to demonstrate their ability to secure the safety of workers and participants at events.
They further informed the DSAC that they wanted the regulations on the number of participants at events, currently set at 50 people, to take into consideration the size / area or total capacity of venues and not the current 50 participants’ restriction, as this does not ensure that safety protocols of social distancing are respected.
In responding to what the Association was presenting the Department further expressed a need to rather use percentages than absolute numbers of the capacity density as a measure; and committed to using the two weeks before the 15th September as the window of opportunity to engage and consult on the Plan.
The department further emphasised the need to ensure that the whole value chain that is involved in putting together a successful event, is covered in this Plan. The department has established a Team to work on the inputs that will be taken forward in engaging key Government structures.
It is important to mention that in engaging with the SACIA; there was a mutual agreement that while it is important for government to open the economy and allowing industries to begin going through a recovery process, it is also of equal importance that the livelihoods of people are protected; therefore all measures should be taken to minimise the risk of the spread of infections and the possible surge of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
The presentation and initiative taken by SACIA in developing a quite extensive plan for this sub sector to be able to resume its economic activities and enable the artist to continue with their craft was well received by the Director General Vusumuzi Mkhize.
The department is very concerned about the negative impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the events sector and we welcome efforts by SACIA to develop efficient safety protocols. As a Department we remain committed to work with the SACIA and all other stakeholders to find a positive solution to the challenges the industry is facing said the Director General.