GOVERNMENT has received 2 899 applications from artists for the coronavirus (Covid-19) Artists Relief Fund with Matabeleland North topping the list on 681 followed by Harare and Midlands with 486 and 469 respectively.
While the list has raised eyebrows in some sections within the arts sector on how Matabeleland North topped ahead of Harare and Bulawayo, government says the figures are based on those who had applied.
This comes after government launched $10 million dollar Arts Relief Fund on July 10 inviting applications from all the six arts disciplines.
The deadline for the applications was July 31.
A statement from the government said: “The ministry of Arts would like to inform all its valued stakeholders in the cultural and creative industries that a total of 2 899 applications were received for the Covid-19 Artists Relief Fund at the close of submission period on July 31.”
Matabeleland North has the highest number of artists that have applied for the relief fund followed by Harare with 486, Midlands 469, Masvingo 279, Manicaland 260, Bulawayo 224, Mashonaland East 144, Mashonaland Central 140, Mashonaland West 129 and Matabeleland South 93.
Contacted for comment, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe referred all questions to the Arts ministry who are the coordinators of the fund.
The director of the Arts, Culture Promotion and Development in the ministry Biggie Samwanda said the statistics show how the artists responded to the call according to each province.
“Some artists applied while others did not. However, the process is still on-going. We will also release the names of artists who would have benefited from the fund in due course.”
The processing of applications was all done at provincial level.
“The ministry and its agencies (National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe) are now in the final stages of conducting the processes which entails receiving and documenting applications, convening provincial selection committee meetings and compiling lists of those applications recommended for approval to start receiving the relief funds.
“And for those not recommended we want to understand the reasons for rejection and craft intervention measures where necessary,” said Samwanda.
The ministry of Arts was now in the process of activating the actual disbursements of the $10 million Artists Relief Fund to the intended beneficiaries who should start receiving the money in their preferred accounts.
“As stakeholders might be aware this has been a hectic process more so in the midst of the Covid-19 national lockdown measures.
“The ministry worked flat out and has ensured that the selection process is strictly adhered to with observance of gender balance, the inclusion of people living with disability and that the funds benefit only the deserving recipients.”