Creatives Share How COVID-19 Has Affected Their Pockets

Hundreds of freelancers and independent artists’ livelihoods have been inconvenienced by the outbreak of the COVID-19, which unfortunately resulted in the closure of theatres, galleries, and other venues.

Although the shutdown is plainly necessary, the aforementioned individuals rely on physical events for salaries – and with the banning of any human interaction – they are doomed as they are not titled to UIF or any other benefits.

The South African government has announced that it is in consultation with various industries in efforts to intervene and assist where possible. But at the moment, many freelancers and musicians are dealing with the harsh reality of being without jobs and no income.

Here, we look at how the livelihood of freelancers, musicians and music rights organisation have been affected by the outbreak.

The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School (Kwazulu Natal School Choir)

The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School was looking forward to showcasing their talents in various musical concerts in South Africa and abroad, including an international tour in Taiwan and the choral series titled, Rhythm of Africa The Dynamic Springbok, amongst others. But now all that seems like a distant memory, the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School indicates that the cancellation of their gigs have severe academic and financial consequences both home and abroad. 

The school choir said, “The Drakensberg Boys Choir School is the only school of its kind on the African continent. We offer a holistic education (academics, sport, music, boarding) and we use the tool of choral music to instill valuable life skills, self-discipline, teamwork and leadership in our students. We perform weekly concerts to an international audience and travel extensively. Our operations are severely impacted by the COVID-19 virus and we are afraid for the future of our school due to the economic pressure we experience due to cancelled events.”

Gary Perkin (Cape Town Photographer)

Like many of his peers, Cape Town photographer, Gary Perkin had to cancel coverage of the Cape Epic MTV Race that was scheduled to start on Table Mountain and end in Paarl after traveling to Ceres, Tulbagh, and Wellington in March. He sites the outbreak of COVID-19 as the reason for the event cancellation following a government ban on all gatherings in South Africa. 

Kwame Sibeko (Gauteng DJ)

A Gauteng DJ, Kwame Sibeko, was expected to perform at the Champagne Sunday’s gig, which was forced to cancel following an announcement by the government to ban all gatherings in the country due to COVID-19 pandemic. Kwame could have attended the gig with his two colleagues and pocketed R1000 for his 1-hour set. 

Nicholas Maweni (SAMRO Chairperson)

Meanwhile, the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) chairperson Nicholas Maweni says the majority of SAMRO 17 000 members have two major income streams including royalties collected by the organization, which are distributed periodically, as well as income from performing at events. Maweni said; “Many will instinctively turn to SAMRO for financial bailouts. The financial pressure this will have on SAMRO is one that we are unable to bear.”


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