SEVERAL organisations which fall under the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture (MTEC) have cautiously welcomed the increased budget allocation to the ministry, adding, it however, might not do them much good unless government moves to establish an arts council.
Last week, Finance Minister, Moeketsi Majoro, announced that the Culture ministry would receive M220.8 million (62% up from last year’s M133.40 million allocation) in his proposed national budget speech.
Dr Majoro said government had identified the ministry as one of the key pillars in its quest to diversify the economy and stimulate growth.
However, the different organisations affiliated to the ministry said government would need to do more than just allocate money to encourage the growth in the arts sector.
They say an arts council is necessary to monitor budget allocations to different associations and to speed up the implementation of the Copyright Regulations Act to give artistes protection and rewards for their work.
Lesotho Culture and Traditional Sports Association (LCTSA) president, Thabang Maoela, said that it was time the Culture ministry gazetted the long-promised Copyright Regulations Act.
“Unless an arts council and a Copyright Regulations board is established, we will not know what happened to the budget funds as has been case in the past,” Maoela said.
“Our main objective is to preserve nature and engage in activities that are directed at reviving cultural sports involving all the 10 districts and our current budget of M292 650 is not enough.
“We urge the Culture ministry to have district officers who will help promote arts at district level. The minister should also meet presidents of different associations to hear our full concerns rather than getting information from the directors at the ministry’s head offices.”
Beauty Pageants Association of Lesotho chairperson, Tlali Tlali, said in the absence of an arts council, the huge budget would not benefit all the associations.
“Apart from the arts council, the ministry needs people with expertise in different fields who will serve our different needs effectively.
“BPAL has for a long time pleaded with government to endorse pageants so that sponsors can get tax exemptions like in other fields.
“We also participate in international pageants which benefit the country as our representatives make presentations about our culture and the beauty of our country.
“The ministry normally assists us with one flight ticket each year but we feel the contestant should not travel alone but with at least four other people for support, just like in sports where we see players travelling with the technical team.”
The deputy president of Lesotho Music Rights Association, Sechaba Moqoko, said: “The government is aware that for a long time our work has been pirated and sold on the streets”.
“Our plea has always been for a law to protect our work from such malicious acts so that we can be able to make money.
“Even if the budget is increased by 100%, arts are going nowhere unless there is a clear policy of how much each sector is allocated and that can be done through the arts council.
“That huge amount allocated to the ministry covers a lot of things and it might be injected into recreation parks so as for now we cannot comment effectively on the 62% increment,” he said.