The Show Must Go On: Creative Industries Innovate Their Approach Amidst COVID-19

By Phindile Maduna

The influx and proliferation of the global COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa since March 2020, resulted in President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act. This further necessitated that the President make the difficult decision to call for a National Lockdown for 21 days meaning, from midnight 26 March 2020, all those living within the borders of South Africa were to stay indoors unless it was to access essential services. This necessary measure has had repercussions for many sectors including the creative industries, across the world.

South Africa is no different, creatives in music, film, book publishing and writing and theatre (to name but a few), have ingeniously done what they can to overcome the effects of the deadly pandemic One of the key recommendations made to the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture by various representatives in the industry, was to intensify the utilisation of digital platforms i.e. online streaming of recorded and real time footage. This is an effort to secure income for creatives and ensure that consumers continue to experience the content.

Some who have made the decision to go digital include:

  • The Nal’ibali national reading campaign for children who are offering a multilingual virtual reading club that started to broadcast on Facebook Live three times a week from 27 March 2020;
  • South African Film ‘MOFFIE’ started to screen online in March 2020;
  • Afrikaans Gaan Global concert series which took place on 28 March, and again on 4 April and 11 April is being livestreamed to domestic and international;
  • The annual Obrigado Music Festival which will take place on 4 April 2020 will be livestreamed to domestic and international music enthusiasts;
  • The annual National Arts Festival for performing arts which is taking place on 25 June to 5 July 2020 will be livestreamed; and
  • The Department of Sports Arts and Culture playhouses will avail to artists, from various areas, a platform to perform live-streaming activities.

Although this is a very challenging time for South Africa and the world, it has made it necessary for the industry to ‘think outside the box’ and make use of the many digital opportunities at their disposal.