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Artists from across the North West gathered in the province’s capital city, Mahikeng, to attend an arts fair held with the aim of encouraging those in the arts industry to unite and share ideas on how to survive during these testing times.
This comes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has negatively affected various sectors including the entertainment and arts industry in the country.
Dialogue on the plight of artists under COVID-19 lockdown:
31-year-old poet Lesego Matheatau from the dusty streets of small town, Orkney, near Klerksdorp in the North West, rhythmically speaks about the negative impact caused by COVID-19. While the lyrics sound smooth and polished and deserving to be shared with an audience, most of these doors have been shut thanks to COVID-19.
Mathatau says life before the pandemic was easy.
“Life was easy, we could create our own performances if we were not getting bookings. But just after COVID-19, things just became difficult because there was an issue of social distancing, and you find that other poets find themselves in families where there’s cases of COVID-19, so we are unable to meet. Another issue: we are not financially able to discuss issues over the phone because of the finances and no gigs at all. I swear to God there is nothing so, we are unable to survive as artists.”
A visual artist and crafter from Jourbeton near Klerksdorp, 32-year-old Lebogang Moabi, says livelihoods have been negatively affected by the pandemic.
“My career before COVID-19 was good, actually, because it was easy for me to source materials. But since the restrictions of COVID-19 and the pandemic actually as a whole, it has restricted me to do my work comfortably because I can’t engage with people like I used to before. And also the sale, it has affected the sale of my work.”
Importance of such platforms
Moabi painted this artwork depicting the reality of COVID-19, but due to the circumstances, his work can only be seen by a handful of people.
“The black plastics on the heads of these women represent the pandemic of COVID-19. As you can see, they are wearing their masks and they are looking for a better place of isolation so that they can deal with the pandemic,” explains Moabi.
The arts fair organiser, Cathy Yenana, says such platforms are important for artists to share ideas on how to stay afloat.
“It’s always good as an artist, or even as a human being, to get another perspective in sector. We live in a world where we are finger-audiences and get everything online, however, the human contact that this also gathers while we are observing the protocols, just to meet another artist just to get another perspective also and be able to be exposed to what global trends are, because we are doing some workshops with international artists who are able to share their experiences with them as well.”
The artists say although the third wave is not giving much hope of the pandemic being over in the near future, they are optimistic that job opportunities will, once again, open up.