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National Arts Council Fulfills Grant Payment Obligation to the National Arts Festival

Published on 19 October 2021

The National Arts Festival (NAF) and the National Arts Council (NAC) have reached an agreement on the terms of payment for the outstanding funds and costs in their legal dispute, bringing an end to the contestation over the NAC’s attempt to unilaterally amend the terms of the grant contract awarded as part of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Package (PESP) earlier this year.

On 1 October 2021, the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed the application for leave to appeal the 21 June 2021 judgement of the South Gauteng High Court ordering the National Arts Council (NAC) to pay over the balance of funds awarded in terms of a Presidential Employment Stimulus Package grant earlier in the year.

On 31 March 2021, Judge Willem Wepener of the South Gauteng High Court ordered the National Arts Council (NAC) to pay the National Arts Festival (NAF) R3.4-million within 72 hours and that the revised grant notification letter sent to the NAF reducing the grant money be suspended with immediate effect. The order also indicated that the litigation for the balance of the funds would proceed on expedited timeframes and resulted in a further order to pay the balance in full, plus costs, on 21 June 2021. This was then taken on appeal by the NAC but on 8 July 2021, Judge Colin Lamont dismissed the appeal with costs.

A further appeal from the National Arts Council to the Supreme Court was again dismissed on 1 October 2021, with costs, requiring the NAC to meet the terms of the court order issued on 21 June 2021. At the request of the NAC, terms were agreed to by both parties in terms of the payment of the balance of the contract and legal costs.

Says National Arts Festival CEO, Monica Newton, ‘We are relieved that this unprecedented chapter in the long history of the NAF is now over and that we can finally complete these projects that were designed to benefit the artists, creatives and technical crews who are the intended beneficiaries of the PESP programme.’

These include:

  • Projects supporting and funding 49 digital productions in all nine provinces of South Africa
  • Development of the NAF’s Power Station Project in Makhanda, which will create a workshop space for local artisans, crafters and artists to innovate, experiment and install street art projects
  • A new arts programme of exhibitions and works challenging the narrative of the 1820 Settlers Monument in Makhanda, Eastern Cape

When completed, the projects are expected to create work and income generating opportunities for 400 people.