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MBABANE – While the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the entertainment industry as social gatherings with larger crowds remain banned, the arts sector has emerged with a cry to be heard.

In a series of social media posts, artists have shared their growing concerns over how they have been bleeding money as events such as conferences, live shows, expos, festivals and clubs die a slow painful death.

Using the distress signal, popular internationally in voice-procedure radio communications, some of the local artists joined in on the #LightSAred movement, which aims at pleading with government to save the entertainment industry.


Among the many issues the artists stated in their cry for help, they allege that for over five months, they earned zero income and also felt ignored by government.

The plight was first introduced in the United Kingdom by Clearsound Productions Ltd and Backstage Theatre Jobs on social media platforms earlier in July.
Subsequently, it spread to South Africa on Wednesday morning as well as across the southern Africa region by the end of the day.
The protesters invited fans to join them as they covered buildings and monuments in red LED light to raise awareness of their plight.

With this, the participants were also urged to take photos of the objects or themselves in red and then share them on social media platforms.
“We are standing together to call on the lift of the ban and to reignite this industry that contributes millions to our economy and puts food in people’s mouths. It does not only serve as a good time but it is people’s livelihoods,” lamented one artist.


Meanwhile, other local artists shared that they felt that the local associations were not benefitting them anything because they were only told to register but did not see the benefits of doing so.

Another artist shared that he had registered in 2018, where they were invited to send SMSs with their names and details to a short code generated by one of the local telecommunications networks.

He alleged that though doing so, it was the last he had heard of the service and benefits that the association had promised.
Some even felt that the governing bodies for the arts were only there to regulate how they conducted their business and nothing more.

When reached for comment, the Eswatini National Council of Arts and Culture (ENCAC) Chief Executive Officer Stanley Dlamini said, “Just like the #BlackLivesMatter movement the awareness was important as this popularised the profession.”
He stated that even in developed countries the arts sector was regarded as an important sector that revived the economy. 

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