President Cyril Ramaphosa has been called on to sign the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill that will eliminate labour exploitation in the entertainment industry.
The call was made by the panel at the State of the Creative Industry Dialogue at Power FM studios in Johannesburg yesterday.
The panel, comprising veterans actress Mara Louw and Nambitha Mpumlwana, and Gauteng MEC for sport, arts, culture and recreation Mbali Hlophe, discussed matters affecting the country’s film industry.
Mpumlwana said signing the Bill introduced to parliament in 2016 would protect artists from the unregulated industry that puts them at the bottom of the food chain.
Hlope told a room filled with artists the matter of the Bill was in the hands of the president and the lack of unity of artists made it difficult to pass.
Louw responded to this with allegations that the president’s hands were tied by corporate heads who are benefitting from the industry.
Second on the artists’ list of pleas was the deployment of a minister who understood the industry and minds of creative people.
SA Arts and Culture Youth Forum president Romeo Ramuada called for the removal of the arts minister, Nathi Mthethwa, as he believed the needs of artists were not being addressed.
Louw said the minister lacked the ability to solve artists’ issues and perpetrated behaviour like that of producers.
Mthethwa apparently told her she liked to complain after she told him about her unfair dismissal by producers without a warning.
The artists’ main issues were not being valued and paid too little for their craft, while broadcasters and production houses got huge sums of money.
“You want to pay me peanuts, no thank you. Give it to monkeys,’’ said Louw responding to producers who offered to pay her the same amount as college graduates.
The artists described the industry as exploitative and abusive, and raised concerns of being blacklisted after speaking out against injustices.
The dialogue was sparked by actress Vatiswa Ndara’s open letter to the minister about the challenges in the industry.
Ndara accused production companies of exploiting actors while they raked in millions in re-flights of productions and did not share the profits with the artist.
While producers blamed the broadcasters of the re-flights, and the selling of productions without sharing the royalties with the involved stakeholders, none of the broadcasters involved were present yesterday to respond on the allegations.
The Bill mandates the payment of royalties to actors where there is further commercial exploitation of the performance, whether it be through a re-broadcast, transmission through a diffusion service, sold or rented out (licensed).
If there is no agreement to the contrary, the copyright owner is obliged to retrieve royalties or fair, equitable remuneration on behalf of the performer.
The Bill stipulates that such monies are paid across to the performer in a manner that is agreed upon between the performer and the copyright holder.
The discussion ended with artists calling for a summit where they would further discuss their issues.