By: Precious M. Lesupi
On March 23rd, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nationwide lockdown , which put an abrupt stop to most citizen’s incomes. The impact was harder on the arts industry, as they do not necessarily have the same employee benefits as would civil workers.
For Buhle Ngaba, storyteller and author of The Girl Without The Sound, this meant losing all booked worked for the year 2020. Although this had impacted her direct salary extensively, she declared with much positivity “it hasn’t impacted my dreams or visions for my work too hard”.
The Corona Virus pandemic has caused much financial and emotional distress for Ngaba. She therefore had to explore other mediums to keep her work alive. “Fortunately, before the pandemic hit, I had already been looking at other forms of archiving and sharing my work” she continued.
According to Ngaba, “the arts industry will survive”. In spite of the fact that we have repeatedly heard that the arts will die, this does not happen. In fact, “the arts is what heals us”.
“We need to restructure how we see the arts and the role of the arts in our country as a whole”, she continues. The Kwa-Zulu Natal born actress does not believe that enough has been done to assist the industry and to build the industry to give it the foundations and tools it need to survive something like this COVID-19 pandemic. Though the department of arts and culture has established a relief fund, the fund is not easily accessible across the industry as a whole.
Ngaba further advices artists struggling with the effects of the pandemic to innovate and try to not focus on their limitations and most importantly reach out to other artists for collaborations. “Artists always found enough ways to imagine what others can’t, this is the time for us to imagine” she declares.