New relief fund for NASCAM

By Rosalia David

THE National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN) administrator Gretta Gasper has said that they are not aware of the new Covid-19 relief fund directly being awarded to the Namibian Society of Composers and Authors of Music (NASCAM).

Recently, the national broadcaster NBC announced that musicians will receive a Covid-19 relief fund that has been made available by the Ministry of Finance to the Directorate of Arts in the Ministry of Education. Unlike before, this money (expected to be N$3 million) will come straight from the ministry to NASCAM who will then distribute to artists.

Last year, the Minister of Education Anna Nghipondoka announced that Namibian artists would receive a relief package of N$5 million made available through NACN that would be distributed to stakeholders in the industry that was hit hard by the pandemic.

According to Gasper, NASCAM was supposed to benefit from the relief fund availed to the NACN by the minister of education, arts and culture last year but did not benefit as they allegedly ‘failed to submit a proper project plan’. Funds amounting to N$150 000 were supposed to be given to NASCAM but this did not happen.

“NASCAM failed to submit a proper project plan like the other institutions did such as NTN and that is why they didn’t get the funds. We didn’t get an official communication, apart from seeing on social media that they are getting a relief fund that is going straight to them” she said.

Gasper confirmed that there are musicians who benefitted from the fund availed by the ministry; those that had applied through the council.

“Some artists submitted their project plans as individuals and they got their money. We didn’t transfer the money to NASCAM because their plan was not approved,” she added.

In a letter seen by Confidente, NASCAM chief executive officer John Max wrote to NACN in September requesting for the council to avail a budget to fund the organisation in three main areas.

NASCAM needed funds for a variety of needs including to purchase a monitoring radio music control usage system to provide a more accurate song list from radios and television stations across Namibia; presence to be managed by Social Media managers, and to acquiring a laptop, tablet, cell phone and camera.

According to Max, the institution first requested for funds to conduct their annual members’ information sharing sessions through the regions but the request was rejected.

“That proposal was rejected and they have advised us to come up with a proposal that benefits artists directly, then we sent one that of the production of a compilation of a Covid-19 songs to educate the public on how to behave during the Covid-19 crisis.

“First, we were told the fund would benefit musicians as they will all be paid N$3 000 each but later, the committee disqualified that proposal,” he stated.

He further explained that in response to their formal request made to the minister of education in April 2020 requesting for an intervention by the line ministry in the form of financial assistance, the ministry heard their call.