Entertainment

Artists call for government support

Lucius Banda

Some artists in the country have called on the government to emulate what the Kenyan government has done in setting up funds to help the creative industry this time when many of them are failing to generate income since they cannot hold live performances due to a ban on public gatherings.

The world is undergoing a tough time at the moment following the Coronavirus pandemic which continues to claim lots of lives.

This has forced countries to go on lockdown and put up precautionary measures to avoid the spread of Coronavirus and the country has not been left out.

Musician Soldier Lucius Banda while acknowledging the precautionary measures which the government has put up in the fight against Coronavirus pandemic, recently indicated that artists were struggling following a ban on gatherings hence a package could have been considered through the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness.

Lucius came out again writing on his Facebook page that a Malawian musician’s music is shared on whatsApp and that when he puts it on websites, it gets thousands of downloads and when he puts it on commercial sites for people to purchase, he does not get anything.

He said with that, Malawian artists rely heavily on live performances and that with ban on live performances, many have cancelled or postponed shows and that they have no income to support their families.

“The leading artist may survive the drought but what about those that work with him, band members, dancers, singers and others,” Lucius said.

His post received mixed viewers with other supporting him that the artists needed to be bailed out while others described it as a disaster and that the government needs not to do anything.

But in Kenya for instance, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday lifted the Kenyan entertainment spirits high with a directive to the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage to set aside Sh100 million to cushion local artists from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a presidential address, Kenyatta, said that in a bid to empower the youth and foster sustainable livelihoods, local artists will get a chunk of Sh100 million every month.

“I direct the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage to avail Sh100 million from the Sports Fund to our artists, actors and musicians during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic so they may continue to entertain their fellow brothers and sisters through TV, radio and the internet,” Kenyatta said.

Lucius welcomed Kenya’s move saying it was a land of the living where an artist is celebrated and not envied.

Artist Tawonga Nkhonjera said Tuesday that the creative industry needed to be supported and that mechanisms of such provisions have to be enforced.

“I urge the government to follow what Kenya has done. Artists are struggling and need such package,” Nkhonjera said.

Minister of Information, Mark Botomani, said recently that the government has put such precautionary measures to protect the lives of people.

He said the measures have not only affected the creative industry but other sectors and that the government was on alert to make sure that people are protected.

“This is a crisis. The government priotises lives of people and that is what it has done in putting up precautionary measures. As for compensation, the government cannot do that now but maybe as we go forward that can be looked at,” Botomani told The Daily Times last week.

President Peter Mutharika on Saturday moved in to issue new guidelines in the awake of Covid-19 aimed at cushioning the economy and Malawians from effects of the pandemic including tax waivers on importation of essential goods for coronavirus management and also reduction of fuel prices with the aim of reducing transport costs.

So far, the country has recorded eight cases of coronavirus with one death.

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