South African Roadies Association settlement agreement; Department of Arts and Culture on its 1 Quarter 2016/17 performance

Arts and Culture

23 August 2016
Chairperson: Ms X Tom (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) updated the Committee on the progress of the settlement agreement between the DAC and the South African Roadies Association (SARA). Although relations between the two were still a little strained, there had been implementation of the agreement to date. SARA had submitted a three year proposal for the Live Events and Technical Productions Services Conference as part of the Africa Month Proceedings, the first of which had been executed successfully in 2016, Subsequently there was establishment of a committee to ensure that the conference continues to make an impact on the sector for 2017 and 2018, for which payment had already been finalised. 2016 was the final year of a three year funding agreement between the DAC and SARA for the International Interactions Programme. SARA had submitted its report for the second year activities and as the result the processing for the first payment for the final cycle of the programme was underway and expected to be effected by the end of August 2016. The National Arts Council audit investigation had also been completed and the report has been submitted for approval. The DAC had offered a direct transfer of R15 million to SARA for the funding of renovations to SARA House, but SARA was not satisfied and thought that this may be a breach of the settlement agreement. A legal opinion was being obtained.

Members asked for clarity around the funding and whether there was a possibility of litigation. Some Members were sceptical on the chance of finding a lasting solution. They emphasised the role of the DAC in increasing participation of South African artists, and suggested that DAC must rise to the opportunity of offering support. They asked what capacity South Africa had to host events,and noted that more consistent detail was needed from the DAC on its plans and timelines.

The DAC then presented its first quarter report, outlining the number of events supported, and comparing its performance against targets in each of its programmes. Overall, it was reported that the DAC had spent R824 million, or 20% of the budget for the year, by 30 June. Members asked questions on what the community conversations entailed, what type of support was being given to flagship events, why certain festivals were named as they were (Miami), and the DAC responsibility to effect consistent name changes, to drive transformation, particularly in light of the Constitutional Court comments in the City of Tshwane case. They wanted to know more about the national symbols toolkit. They were worried about the way the figures were presented, which caused confusion between previous and current financial year expenditure. Members also questioned whose responsibility it was to provide literature, and why there appeared to be asymmetry in supporting provinces. Members also questioned under-achievement and were concerned that the 30-day supplier payment policy was not being strictly observed. Overall, the Chairperson noted that all of the questions raised concerns about the reliability of the information provided in the report, and expressed frustration at inconsistent use of indicators, urging the Department to improve and not merely to repeat information.

The Committee adopted minutes of meetings on 3 May 2016; 24 May 2016; and 16 August 2016.

Meeting report

Department of Arts and Culture Parliamentary First Quarter Report 2016 briefing
Chairperson's opening remarks

The Chairperson noted that the meeting held the previous week had not gone as expected because only one official from the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC or the Department) was in attendance who was unable to present the progress report on the implementation of the settlement agreement. She insisted that until this matter is resolved it would not be removed from the the Committee’s agenda. Furthermore, she expressed dissatisfaction not only with the DAC’s performance but also the DAC’s treatment of the Committee as an oversight body. She noted that any disquiet expressed by the Members on topics should not be taken personally.

Department of Arts and Culture and South African Roadies Association (SARA) settlement agreement
Mr Vusuthemba Ndima, Acting Director General, Department of Arts and Culture, introduced the team.

Ms Milton, representing the DAC, noted that there had been further attempts to implement the settlement agreed. The SARA had submitted a three year proposal for the Live Events and Technical Productions Services Conference as part of the Africa Month Proceedings, the first of which had been executed successfully in 2016. A committee was established to ensure that the conference continues to make an impact on the sector for 2017 and 2018. Payment has already been finalized.

Ms Milton said that the International Interactions Programme was, in 2016, in the final year of a three year funding agreement between DAC and SARA. SARA had submitted its report for the second year activities so that the first payment of the final cycle of the programme was under way and should be effected by the end of August 2016.

The National Arts Council (NAC) audit investigation had been completed and the report had been submitted for approval, after which the outcome will be communicated to the relevant parties including the SARA and the NAC. Again, this should be done by end August.

She spoke to the renovations to SARA House. The funding remains ring-fenced and funds have been set aside but an impasse has been reached. The DAC has made an offer of R15 million to transfer funds directly to SARA. However, SARA was dissatisfied with this proposal, believing it to be a breach of the settlement agreement. A legal opinion had been sought from Nazeer Cassiem, SC.

SARA had also submitted a proposal to the DAC for the establishment of a backstage academy, and had requested funding to run a feasibility study in order to motivate for further funding for the academy itself. . DAC had told SARA that it was not in a position to support funding for this establishment but it was prepared to initiating a feasibility study not specifically into SARA's academy, but to look at trying to improve the whole sector and make informed decisions.

Relations between SARA and DAC continued,  but remain strained. The DAC had on two occasions sanctioned SARA for the means and tone of communications.

The Chairperson requested that clarity be given on the legal opinion around the R15 million funding for the renovation of the SARA House, and what the prospects of litigation would be if action were to commence.

Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) was sceptical that a lasting solution could be found with so many parties involved. He also emphasised the role of the DAC in assisting the initiative of the SABC increasing the participation of South African artists. By implication, it would become necessary that DAC serve as source of support for production and artist development, similar to SARA, and it must rise to the opportunity.

Mr Ndima responded by saying that any request for funding for any new entity would have to set up a feasibility study, for any establishment could well become rapidly unsustainable if insufficient thought had been put into its start-up. There is  a view that the DAC is not mandated nor does it have the capacity to implement the the project, so it seems this may be unenforceable.

Mr Mahlangu enquired what level of capacity South Africa has.

Ms Milton responded  that it is necessary to make a distinction between live and recorded material. She said that South Africa as a country has a decent capacity to host events but the question was rather whether there were efficient means to generate content timeously, especially bearing in mind the 90% rule implemented by the SABC.

The Chairperson concluded that it is necessary for the Committee to have a clear understanding of the plans of the DAC and the corresponding timelines and due dates for submissions. The Chairperson then called for the briefing of on the DAC Parliamentary First Quarter Report.

Briefing on the Department of Arts and Culture’s Parliamentary First Quarter Report 2016/17
Mr Ndima (DAC) proceeded to present the report for the first quarter (see attached presentation for full details)

He firstly outlined the key highlights. Six out of the 25 cultural events targeted for the whole year were achieved in this quarter. The DAC had celebrated Africa Month  under the theme, “Building a Better Africa and a Better World”, launching this also during the 10th Anniversary Celebrations of the African World Heritage Fund Seminar, held at the Cradle of Humankind in Maropeng, Sterkfontein.  It had celebrated, in partnership with the National Youth Development Agency, the 40th anniversary of Soweto Students Uprising under the theme: “Youth Moving South Africa Forward”.   The June 16 commemoration was closely attached to the historical events of 1976 in Soweto. A National Archives Awareness week was launched and was rolled out in Mpumalanga, whilst a ceramist gave master classes at a primary school in Katlehong. 26 shareholder contracts were concluded. Two community conversations took place. Five research reports were produced. Service providers were appointed to roll out flag distribution at schools and 500 African Union flag installations were achieved and 30 000 handheld flags were distributed in this quarter. 84 bursaries were given

He then spoke to the performance for quarter one in each of the programmes, in detail, before presenting a report on expenditure, summarising budget and expenditure figures for each programme, by economic classification and highlighting the variances. In summary, overall, the DAC had spent R824 million, or 20% of the budget for the year, by 30 June. 

Mr Mahlangu enquired about the definition of “community conversations” as used in the report, what the oversight mechanisms entailed (on page 15 of the report) and requested clarification on the type of support given to flagship events such Innibos.  He also expressed his concern about geographical names, citing the names of the festivals and referred to the  Constitutional Court judgment in City of Tshwane Municipality v Afriforum and Another, in which the court dealt with the Tshwane name change and its implications for advancing transformation. He argued that a process of standardisation ought to be developed and implemented with respect to naming because the names directly affected the ideal of transformation. In arbitrary naming, the country appeared to remain more Eurocentric than African. He suggested that the Department should recognise this process as an opportunity to move the country forward in transformation.

Mr Mahlangu also enquired about the content and purpose of the “national symbols toolkit” mentioned on page 23 of the report. On page 35 of the report the performance of the previous and current year appeared to overlap and he questioned the reliability of the information. Finally he expressed the problem of the consistent underspending on infrastructure.

Mr G Grootboom (DA) wanted to mention something that was not actually in the report at present, but noted that when the Committee went on an oversight visit to Musina in 2015, the Committee was told that no books had been received from the DAC, so he asked whether book purchase was a provincial or national function.

Second, he requested why there seemed to be asymmetry in expenditure, as  the frequency of funding allocations to arts festivals are skewed between the provinces. Some events amounted to R9 million spent in one province, whilst others received less.

Mr Grootboom also made the point that no reports had been made on exactly which provinces had received flags, with no mention made of Western, Eastern and Northern Cape.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) noted the comment on page 12 of the report that  the DAC had underachieved on the number of imbizos and wanted reasons for this. She questioned whether the payment of suppliers within 30 days policy was being followed and what procedures were put in place to monitor this.

Ms Bilankulu also asked whether the transfers funding to to performing arts institutions, which was scheduled for the end of July 2016 had been realised.

The Chairperson noted that the issues raised by Members spoke to the quality of the report. She expressed frustration with the inconsistent use of the indicators in the report, which made it unreliable. She cautioned the DAC to ensure the highest quality of information in all submissions, especially  because these documents become public.

The Chairperson reiterated the significance of the 30 day payment of suppliers policy. for the well-being of small and medium business. She questioned how the DAC had been monitoring this compliance and wanted to know what monitoring mechanisms were employed. The Chairperson further endorsed the questions raised by Members of the committee.

Mr Ndima first spoke to the definition of “community conversations”. He said community conversations are designed to ensure that the DAC works towards a cohesive society. In this, the DAC looks at a number of topics affecting communities, including race, race relations, tribalism, social economic inequalities, service delivery and transformation, so that there is common understanding of the community’s convictions. A very topical issue last year was that of transformation of heritage landscapes such as placement of statues and geographical names. Public and community participation is key because no purpose was served in holding conversations only in private. All people, across all racial and cultural spectrums, need to share their aspirations and anxieties in working towards effective transformation. The community conversations are therefore instrumental for deciding on best practice.

Matters such as name changes are frequently the topic of discussion. The DAC is often in discussion with the provincial departments and local governments as a way of encouraging them to be champions of change and to observe the leader frameworks that so that when they do initiate name changes they implement them within the parameters of the law. Workshops are therefore necessary to guide the relevant parties on how to effect these changes.

Mr Ndima then outlined that the toolkit for flags and flag poles consists of  a booklet, a poster of national symbols and the preamble of the Constitution, and CD format of the national anthem. For the first quarter, flags were not actually an indicator, as the targets were in the second quarter. However, it was necessary to make place for it in this report as a future expenditure, and he apologised if this had not been quite clear.

Mr Mdlola noted that over expenditure figures represented payment for accruals, and therefore reflected as a much larger number in this quarter than they actually were. He fully agreed that the 0 day payment of supplier policy needs to be complied with, and in order to achieve this, the DAC had to  implement stricter consequences to prompt.

Mr Ndima  stated that the problem with the infrastructure was that there was a year in which the DAC tried to do too much in development without making informed decisions on the costs that would go into such development. The issue here is actually also speaking to the feasibility of the projects that were initiated in previous years, and whether they were fairly priced.

Ms Milton then responded to the questions about the cultural events raised by Mr Mahlangu. She stated that there are a range of ways that flagship events are treated. There are greater events, such the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, as well as other smaller provincial flagship events, with nineteen currently forming part of the economic strategy.  The imbalance of allocations to provinces is currently under review, but as it stands all provinces were told that they could have a minimum of two events to the maximum value of R4 million. Gauteng, however, has requested three, which has been granted.

She said that the “Miami Winter Conference” was so named  because it reflects a legacy of international relations amongst local and international artists, such as DJs. It is held in esteem for serving as a platform for artists such DJ Black Coffee who has recently gained an overwhelmingly positive international audience base.  This was the first year that DAC supported the festival Innibos, with the view to prompting a diversification of the event. Research reports informing the the endorsement of certain events can be made available to the Committee on request.

Mr Makolo Matlala, Chief Financial Officer, DAC,  of the the DAC, responded to the questions on financing of infrastructure and assured Members that an infrastructure committee has been established to address the issue of underfunded infrastructure projects.

The Chairperson expressed her dissatisfaction with the responses, citing that the responses were merely repeated stories from the past.

Other Committee business
Adoption of Committee minutes

The minutes of meetings held on 3 May 2016; 24 May 2016; and 16 August 2016 were adopted without objection.

The meeting was adjourned.


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