Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Artists decry limited broadcast of local performing arts

Despite creation of the Department of Sports, Youth and Culture, broadcasting of local performing artists remains limited, raising concern from Batswana artists.

They are now calling for a funding association that will have their interests at heart.

Motshereganye Sefanyetso, a fulltime performing artist focused on theatre, explains the serious need for funding of performing arts in Botswana. Sefanyatso owns the Storms Road Shows, a company that deals with commercial theatre.

He reveals that he is deeply disturbed by the number of jobless people loitering on the streets while he sees job opportunities through performing arts that can help them out.

Local production, he says, is good enough for broadcasting, and adds that lack of support from the government is the chief reason for low content in local performing arts.

Sefanyatso said that the government has power to change the situation but chooses not to and instead gives international productions first priority over local ones.

He believes the government, parastatals and private sectors should work together in an attempt to improve the situation.

“They are our source of livelihood; they have the money and work that can be taken to the people,” he explains.

Giving an example of the Mma Ramotswe story, Sefanyatso bemoans the fact that about US$5 million, amounting to about P30 million, was thrown at the project when so many Batswana are out on the streets ÔÇô idling, jobless, hungry and frustrated.

“Dividing the money amongst Batswana would have made a massive improvement on the productions and urged people to work harder and to produce better quality work,” he says.

He praises the Botswana Police Force’s Itshireletse, the police series that warns people about the latest criminal acts and believes the concept was well thought out but criticises the way it is conducted.
He says rather than professional actors who are crying for jobs, police officers, who already have jobs, act in the series.

Sefanyatso expresses pity for those who are more dependent on the government for survival because they are not given the chance to prove themselves. More importantly, he says that he feels for the musicians as they are more affected and more frustrated since they are not making profit.

eBotswana’s Marketing and Communications assistant, Sadie Mosiakgabo, says funding for local productions is a necessity. The Ministry of Sport, Youth and Culture should continue to promote the empowerment of local artists while the Tourism Board should recognise local talent that needs to be showcased to the world.

She explains that though eBotswana does not buy productions, they do receive many good local productions for broadcasting.

Btv’s Department of Broadcasting Services is not intrigued by the idea of funding performing arts.
According to them, not all local productions are good but those that they receive are supported accordingly. They receive many local productions and are only able to buy 40 percent local content to be aired on TV and 95 percent local programming for both RB1 and RB2 to be aired on radio. He gave the example of Thokolosi, Rebina Mmogo, One Love and Untold Stories as examples to justify his answer.

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