Mthethwa was speaking at a televised press conference meant to provide more clarity on the nationwide lockdown that will go into effect this Friday.
He said the R150m would be redirected from the department’s first-quarter budget as relief for the sports and arts fraternities. He said the decision to redirect the funds was made after the department had met with local organisations such as the Cultural and Creative Industry Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA), the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), the Independent Music Performance Rights Association (IMPRA), the South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA) and the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO), among others, which had suggested a number of measures to soften the impact of COVID-19 on cultural practitioners.
The department had also been in consultation with the financial sector, which had committed to secure a freeze on house and car mortgages, rent, and various other installments, especially for creatives.
Mthethwa said relief priority would be given to artists who had been booked to perform at department-funded events, as well as to legends of the industry. He said the department was still discussing the details of the criteria that would guide the allocation process, although he noted that national and international artists would be funded on a national level while upcoming artists would be approved provincially. Legends and upcoming artists would also be used to drive messages about COVID-19 on social media.
He said the government had partnered with various playhouses across the country to provide creative spaces where artists could work. He added that artists would not have to pay for using these facilities.
In addition, the government would provide a streaming platform for musicians, stand-up comics and poets, and procure service providers in the digital space to curate new content. Mthethwa said the department would provide more information on how artists could participate in these programmes.
He also called on private and public broadcasters to play more locally produced content to enable artists to earn royalties.