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Court orders NAC to fulfil R8m payment to National Arts Festival

The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has ordered that the National Arts Council (NAC) fulfil its payment of R8m to the National Arts Festival.
The ruling was for the balance of the sum that was carried over for consideration from a court ruling in late March 2021 when the National Arts Festival Grahamstown NPC took the NAC to court. The claim was for payment of R8m awarded to the company that runs the National Arts Festival as part of the NAC-managed Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme. The funds were intended for a range of projects administered by the National Arts Festival Grahamstown NPC.

"ICU in Corona Unit", by Mandisi Sindo of KASI RC for the project "Here My Dear" - a collection of works created by artists under the facilitation of the National Arts Festival from the PESP funding grant funding grant - Source: Supplied
"ICU in Corona Unit", by Mandisi Sindo of KASI RC for the project "Here My Dear" - a collection of works created by artists under the facilitation of the National Arts Festival from the PESP funding grant funding grant - Source: Supplied

In his judgement on 21 June 2021, Judge Colin Lamont found that the conduct of the NAC
... in unilaterally reducing the contractual amount at a point at which the time for payment of the first amount of funding had passed, and a mere two weeks before the project completion date, is accordingly unlawful and irrational
and ruled that the NAC would need to pay the remainder of the promised R8m to the National Arts Festival immediately. Costs of both the hearing at the end of March 2021 and that on 31 May 2021 were also awarded in favour of the NAF, including the costs of two counsel. 

National Arts Council ordered to pay National Arts Fest R3.4m within 3 days
National Arts Council ordered to pay National Arts Fest R3.4m within 3 days

The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has ordered that the National Arts Council (NAC) pay the National Arts Festival R3.4m of its original R8m grant within 72 hours. The balance will form part of further legal action that the court ordered...

1 Apr 2021


National Arts Festival CEO Monica Newton said that the festival was very pleased with the outcome: “It has been an incredibly tough 18 months for artists and the PESP-funded projects were meant to be a welcome relief. Instead of finding themselves with paid work, many artists, who were already struggling to pay their bills, found themselves out of pocket when the NAC reneged on its contractual obligations to us. We hope that the NAC recognises the validity of the judgment so that these projects can do what they were designed to; support the arts, creatives, technicians and artists at a time of dire need.” 

National Arts Festival CEO, Monica Newton - Source: Supplied
National Arts Festival CEO, Monica Newton - Source: Supplied

Newton also hoped that this ruling would create a precedent for other artists who were similarly affected by contracts not honoured by the NAC. “We realise we have been incredibly lucky to be in a position where we were able to make a legal stand but we hope that this outcome will allow others to follow through with their own claims and submit these findings to strengthen their cases. We hope it signals a turning point for governance and accountability in the arts, and assists in ensuring artists get what they were legally contracted for and are entitled to.”

Cape artists protest against lack of government support
Cape artists protest against lack of government support

The National Arts Council says R68.4 million has been paid to 512 beneficiaries as part of Covid-19 relief. The steps outside the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town were a hive of activity on Saturday, with about 50 artists, musicians, dancers and...

By Marecia Damons 30 Mar 2021

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