The government through the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development fund has only offered monetary assistance to local artists registered with COSBOTS, whereas promoters and organizers of music festivals who give artists the platform to showcase their talents were served a raw deal.
In an interview with Lesego Kwambala, the promoter for the annual Kwambala Music Festival which was slated for May 2nd in Francistown, Kwambala revealed that as promoters they felt sidelined as no support has been offered to them since the beginning of the pandemic though they create employment for many Batswana from the time they start organizing shows.
”As for promoters we have been given a raw deal, the exercise supports artists whose primary income is from the industry, but doesn’t address us promoters who actually spend money on planning and organizing their shows. The shows we organize also benefits the government in the sense that people are able to sustain themselves and it also creates employment for many, it promotes the tourism industry as well,” he said.
Kwambala further emphasized that the government should have devised a strategy to help them recover the losses incurred during preparations depending on the magnitude of the shows adding that support from government could be in different forms such as free venues not only monetary assistance.
Lamenting on the losses he incurred Kwambala explained that he had started advertising his show late last year and upped marketing and advertising between January and march this year adding that there was a need to invest more in marketing because an annual event should show growth and attract a lot of people as well as be able to secure artists that the people want to see.
“We had employed people to print our merchandise and sales agents to market and sell our merchandise. Artist had been paid deposits; we needed to pay them that before advertising the show using their names. We Spent over P80 000 in preparations including artists deposits, Posters and banners, “ he noted.
He went to indicate that going forward they could not compromise on marketing the show adding that they would have to start afresh which is going to be a challenge because they are currently in limbo and cannot set new dates as yet.
Kwambala also observed that a lot of local artists and djs depend solely on shows to showcase their talents and sell their music adding that a lot of people are not going to recover from the pandemic because the entertainment industry cannot be separated from the alcohol industry as they are intertwined and if one is stopped, the other suffers.
He further acknowledged that though they have made loses, they remain hopeful that they will have the same lineup of artists when they release new dates as their availability is no longer guaranteed.
“We are just hoping that artists will be available. There is a possibility of re-negotiating contracts with artists. Shows like this are a risk. Sponsorship will be difficult to secure because a lot of businesses have suffered and might not be forthcoming.” He added.
Covid relies on social industry, it is impossible for social distancing at the shows, we are forced now to learn to live with the disease. Opening up of the alcohol industry gives us hope. As time goes on we will adjust
Kwambala further explained that it is imperative for batswana to learn to live with the covid 19 disease adding that controlling it relies heavily on social distancing which contradicts the concept of music festivals as making profits relies on attracting magnitudes of people. He went on to state that he is hopeful that Botswana continues to maintain low cases of covid 19 as it would allow the entertainment industry to open up business.
We are hoping that before the end of this year we will have an opportunity to host our annual shows so that next year is not affected as well.
As a promoter, Kwambala noted that the Covid 19 pandemic has taught him that Risk management is very important and going forward he intends on having a risk management plan. It has given us an opportunity to re-plan and rethink ideas and come out better
For his part, the organizer of the popular annual Toropo Ya Muka show Bonolo Ngaka, popularly known as Dj Colastraw noted that the existence of the virus has affected his work plan and schedule for the entire year as well as revenue income as a company and the revenue of other beneficiaries of the event.
“A big Festival does not benefit one person, we looking at Members of the community who rent out food stalls to make business, unemployed Youth who seek part time jobs to usher artists and tag people at the gate, promo team, hundreds of security guards, liquor bottle stores for those who stock up their beverages, cleaning companies, deco Companies, sound and stage companies the value chain is just too long and after an event your expenditure can go up to P350 000.00 minimum,” he added.
Colastraw says he remains hopeful that Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development as the custodian will assist where they can once they are allowed to host music adding that reducing fees on venues such as stadiums would be a good start.
“When you talk about festivals or any event where alcohol is involved there will always be irresponsibility and that its self is a setback for us, there is no possible way to try reason on lifting of Festivals at this very moment, we will have to wait a couple of months (maybe 2) and see how things turn out., life needs to go on and we need to learn how to live with this virus in a responsible manner though,” He added.
Colastraw further noted that the pandemic has been a lesson for all industries adding that there was a need to change with times such as being able to buy tickets using your bank card and watching a Festival online. He further emphasized that this was the time to highly consider being innovative as a country, government and private sector inclusive.
“We should normalize electronic services where one can get access to services online, we shouldn't be crowding at offices for services which can simply be availed online,” he noted.