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Provinces blow millions on music festivals

2017-12-10 17:00
CAIPHUS SEMENYA
DOLLAR DRAW: CAIPHUS SEMENYA. PICTURE: LEON SADIKI

Johannesburg - Provincial governments are splurging on music festivals over this festive season – all in the name of promoting arts and culture.

They are adamant that spending millions on the festivals, many of which include international artists, will boost local economies.

In Limpopo, about R10 million was allocated for the Mapungubwe Arts, Culture and Heritage Festival in Polokwane this weekend.

US R&B star Anthony Hamilton and Nigeria’s D’banj were booked for the festival, but cancelled on Friday night. Some of the artists who performed at the festival yesterday were Judith Sephuma, Selaelo Selota, Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu.

Today also marks the last day of the Mahika Mahikeng Cultural Festival, which is largely sponsored by the North West government. While figures for this year’s event were not yet available, the province’s arts and culture department spent R16.7 million on the festival last year.

The department claimed that the money was well spent as it created 4 200 jobs, and R8.2 million was spent on locally based service providers.

The four-day festivities included music, art workshops, a hip-hop festival known as Maftown Heights, comedy nights and Joyous Celebration gospel music. It wraps up with a jazz concert today.

In her budget speech earlier this year, North West Arts and Culture MEC Ontlametse Mochware said R2 million was allocated for the development of 22 cultural villages. This means that the estimated R16 million directed to the Mahika Mahikeng Cultural Festival could have developed at least 176 cultural villages or funded the construction of two libraries.

An impact assessment report on last year’s Mahika Mahikeng event indicated that the “economic impact” of the festival on Mafikeng and surrounding areas was just more than R7 million.

Vusi Kama, a North West communications official, said they were unable to respond to City Press’ questions because the department was “currently at the height of the implementation of the Mahika Mahikeng Cultural Festival as a flagship product in our calendar of events, so everybody is running around at the moment”.

Joe McGluwa, DA leader in North West, said the money used on the festival could have gone a long way towards uplifting the lives of people in previously disadvantaged areas.

“It’s not like they’re throwing these festivals for free, because people still pay at the gate. With R16 million spent last year, you can expect the amount to have doubled for this year’s festival,” he said.

In Mpumalanga, R14.5 million was set aside for this year’s Innibos Festival and the provincial cultural festival held last year.

The Free State government spent the most on its annual Macufe Mangaung African Cultural Festival – a whopping R42.5 million was provided from its 2016/17 budget.

Tabling her budget vote earlier this year, Arts and Culture MEC Mathabo Leeto boasted: “The socioeconomic impact assessment conducted by the Centre for Development Support of the University of the Free State in 2015 leaves no doubt that Macufe is an important tool boosting Mangaung’s economy. Macufe generates approximately R91 million in visitor expenditure in Bloemfontein.”

The Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Free State provinces did not respond to City Press’ questions for further details.