Unsung Heroes 2020: #feedourcrew
Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 this month, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.
We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, starting with South Africa’s #feedourcrew.
Established just after lockdown in April 2020, #feedourcrew’s objective is to provide temporary support, through food vouchers, to technical and casual event crew personnel across South Africa. Founding members Tamsyn Strydom (MGG Productions), Kagiso Moima Wa Masimini (Black Motion Productions), Marcia Alves (We Are Boundless) and Daria Higgins (True North Events) wanted to assist the members of their teams who contribute tirelessly towards creating memorable events, but as freelance technical staff were unable to access any form of relief funds or grants.
Almost all 526 freelancers assisted to date are the sole breadwinners in their families and rely heavily on a normally robust industry for their livelihoods. That, however, changed when the strict lockdown rules were introduced in South Africa, leaving hundreds of crew members without any income.
#feedourcrew has raised ZAR344,564 (€18,684) and has paid out ZAR333,500 (€18,084), with 122 applicants still on the waiting list
To date, #feedourcrew has raised ZAR344,564 (€18,684) and has paid out ZAR333,500 (€18,084), with 122 applicants still on the waiting list for help. As the live industry begins to get back to business in SA, #feedourcrew has partnered with organisations such as the Kagiso Education Fund, which provides on-the-job stagehand training for students aged 18-30 through various industry partners. It also develops community arts space for young people, women, and people living with disabilities.
In August, #feedourcrew also gave birth to #flightcasemovement in an effort to unite members from the live events and technical production sectors. On behalf of those working in the business, #flightcasemovement hand-delivered a memorandum of demands to South Africa’s Department of Sports, Arts & Culture (DSAC) in response to the devastating effect that the government’s prohibition on gatherings has had on the live events industry.
Founded by Kagiso Moima Wa Masimini, Tamsyn Strydom, Aubrey Ndaba (Tech Forum), Sizwe Mokoena (Ugqozi Entertainment), and freelance production manager Lefa Tsiane, #flightcasemovement is providing the live events production community with a vehicle to lobby politicians and give a voice to the sector.
“It is not unusual for crews to work up to 36 hours in a row with no rest… we need to change that”
Among its early activities, the organisation was able to participate in and present the findings of a survey conducted by media group Sun Circle, examining the impact Covid-19 has had on the business and the people who depend upon it.
As a result, #flightcasemovement’s memorandum of demands to the government includes:
- The reopening of the live events industry at 70% capacity, following strict Covid-19 protocol in line with Event Safety Council-proposed guidelines.
- A specific ZAR2billlion (€108million) relief fund for businesses in the live events and technical production sector.
- Compulsory extended relief from financial institutes for businesses and crew members (covering such areas as rent/ bond repayments, school fees, car repayments, insurance/ medical), until the live events sector has recovered.
- Monetary assistance to the organisations that stepped in and assisted freelance technicians and casual workers, such as #feedourcrew.
- Relaxation of relief fund application requirements for freelance crew members.
- Recognition of the live events and technical production sector with different representation across the board and a seat at the DSAC table.
- A strategic, deliberate and sustainable plan on how to support the live events industry.
On the final point, #flightcasemovement is hoping DSAC will help it draw up guidelines for a sustainable plan to best support the industry and to start the process of regulation within the production business. “While we are one of the strictest industries worldwide in terms of health and safety, there is no regulation on the hours worked in South Africa and it is not unusual for crews to work up to 36 hours in a row with no rest,” states Lefa Tsiane. “We need to change that.”
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