COVID-19 lockdown costs Ugandan artistes billions in cancelled events

Bobi Wine performing live
Bobi Wine performs at a music show. All music shows that were scheduled to take place in the months of March to date were cancelled due to a ban on gatherings to curb spread of coronavirus.

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Artistes across the creative value chain have lost at least 150 billion Shillings in income in the last two months of the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. The loss covers those in creation, production, distribution and marketing.

According to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the cancellation of music, art, drama and cultural events has considerably weakened the profession, social and economic status of artists, artistes, performers, creatives and cultural professionals. The ministry puts the number of those affected to 700 after the cancellation of over 300 cultural events.

Speaking at the Uganda Media Centre to mark the World Culture Day, Peace Mutuzo, the Minister of State for Gender and Culture said they are trying to come up initiatives that will not only cushion the artistes from the effects of COVID-19 but also have a sustainable income benefiting from their art. She added that this will be accompanied by training on security protocols in the digital environment so that the artists benefit financially from their works.

World Culture Day is celebrated every May 21, to deepen public understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to “live together” better.

According to Mutuuzo, in the coming days, the Private Sector Foundation and her ministry will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to support the formalization of culture and creative businesses into Small Scale Enterprises to claim their rightful place in the economy. She is optimistic that this will hugely contribute to solving the unemployment of youth and women in Uganda.

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“The emergence of technology and digitization provides a window for ensuring that content attracts due loyalties. I, therefore make a passionate call for all Ugandan cultural products and marketing to go online. We should see culture as part of the exit strategy from the current crisis, and creators have an important role to play in shaping that strategy,” Mutuzo said.