Monday 12 April 2021
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Local artists must unite – John Max

Following complaints from local artists that they are not being treated equally as their counterparts from abroad, NASCAM Chief Executive Officer, John Max, has urged local artists to unite against the unfair treatment as a collective.
According to many local artists, who shared their sour experiences, international acts rake in thousands of dollars when they perform in Namibia while they (local artists) only get peanuts. On top of unequal cuts of payment, local artists say those from outside the country are treated like royalty while they only catch the whiff of proper hospitality from afar.
Sharing her experience from the recent Jazz Festival is 2016 Female Artist of the Year, who said Namibian artists have it rough when it comes to making a living. “Just at the recent Jazz Festival, I was told to drop my quotation. I wonder if this was the same done for the international artists,” said Chikune.
Hikwa guru Sunny Boy also shared the same sentiments saying it is indeed unfair and against the growth of the industry. “We are always paid less compared to artists who come here. We are not even allowed to be in the same space with these people. This is very bad and it’s even worse that it’s our own people treating us like this.”
Responding to the complaints from the artists, NASCAM boss urged the local artists to set their foot down to avoid being exploited. “It is really unfair. How do you deny artists socialising with international artists when they are performing in their country. This is the time they are supposed to link and learn from the international acts. Artists need to start having standards as a collective in order to get the respect they want from the event organisers. We also need to establish a body that regulates these things because it is because of this loophole that artists are being unfairly treated. They really need to stand together and say that they will not receive peanuts,” said Max.
Max is also of the opinion that the exploitation of local artists is brought about by the lack of a competitive market. He said the country has done little in empowering the grassroots level so that local artists can create a name and a demand locally.
Max said the matter is not only limited to international artists versus the locals, but even within the country itself. He said this making reference to other artists from regions such as Zambezi and Kavango East/West, who say they are entirely left out when it comes to the NAMAs. “There are artists who have studied the market very well and they refuse to give in to the treatments. As such, they have remained dominant and they are almost everywhere. But for the sake of growing the industry, the artists themselves need to unite and say enough is enough. Equally so, our industry needs to be uplifted but this can only happen if we build each other genuinely.”

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