Artists appeal 70% local music

By Rosalia David

CHAIRPERSON of the Namibian Arts Council (NACN)  Patrick Sam has said there is no or little demand for local music because it is competing against international content which has clogged the airwaves of broadcasters in the country for some time.

In a panel discussion on the impact of the coronavirus on the arts industry at the Covid-19 Communication Centre recently, Sam further pointed out that under normal circumstances whenever there is an engagement the arts industry always comes last.

Speaking to Confidente afterwards, he highlighted the importance of promoting and buying local content, saying it is high time people make a habit of consuming native content, as it has been neglected for years. “We have a lot of old content that has never been consumed before, especially those in indigenous languages, so we have enough existing material plus the new material that can make up the 70 percent of local content to be played on the airwaves,” he said.

At the same panel discussion, Marinda Stein, a board member at the Namibia Film Commission (NFC), argued that the film industry should be considered as a hard-hit sector as it has been negatively impacted by the lockdown that came in response to Covid-19.

She said 97 percent of people in the film industry that were interviewed indicated that they have been negatively impacted by the lockdown, which for many firms also meant a complete shutdown.

She also mentioned that although the lockdown might pass, the arts sector might never be the same again as large gatherings continue to be avoided by the general public. “For possible solutions, we have submitted a proposal to the Ministry of ICT and they are yet to respond,” she said.

The CEO of the Namibian Society of Composer and Authors of Music (NASCAM), John Max, who was also on the panel, argued that since places of entertainment – where they normally collect money for artists – are closed, and since local musicians might not receive regular payments from radio stations, there is a need to drive the implementation of the 70 percent local content rule to boost artists’ royalty points.

He said, “We have been engaging with the line ministry to make sure that the state broadcaster (NBC) plays a minimum of 70 percent local content, while commercial radio stations should play at least 50% local content.”

Fidel Nambundunga, representing the Oruuano Artist Union, sided with NASCAM, saying the 70 percent local content rule should be implemented as soon as possible. “Certain governments have already put support measures in place in the arts and entertainment sector to support those professionals who are most vulnerable. We call on the Namibian government to do likewise and to deploy ambitious rescue plans with resources that are enough to meet the sector’s needs.”

He further called on artists from a wide range of creative industries to join the union. “We will iron out logistics and campaign, so as to carry this assignment out [to implement the 70 percent rule]. We realized that there is a problem in the arts industry and when artists are not represented or registered, there are no figures or data as to who is an artist…”