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Feed Our Crew supports freelancers in South Africa

Event production professionals in South Africa have set up the Feed Our Crew initiative, providing support to freelance live event technicians in the form of vouchers for food, electricity and other basic necessities.

The project, set up by Tamsyn Strydom, project manager of Johannesburg-based rental company MGG; Kagiso Moima Wa Masimini, owner of event management firm Blackmotion Production; and Marcia Alves of We Are Boundless, is providing ZAR 1,000 (€50) vouchers to out-of-work technicians until government support is available.

Working with People4Purpose, a local non-governmental organisation, Feed Our Crew distributes credit to recipients via their mobile phones. The vouchers are redeemable at major retailers ShopRite and Checkers, and can be used to buy groceries, medication and other essential utilities like electricity, mobile phone data and airtime.

“I am truly inspired with how our amazing industry is uniting, collaborating and pooling resources to help each other out on a practical and human level”

In two weeks, the scheme has received hundreds of applications and has dispatched 160 vouchers. The campaign has also garnered support from companies and individuals, including sponsors such as stage lighting supplier DWR, MGG and Blackmotion.

Applications to the scheme can be made via the Feed Our Crew website and Facebook page.

“There has been an immediate and devastating impact on the show and event industry across South Africa, and freelancers – the often invisible backbone of that usually vibrant industry – are particularly badly hit,” comments Feed Our Crew’s Daria Higgins, who runs events company True North.

“I am truly inspired with how our amazing industry is uniting, collaborating and pooling resources and ideas to help each other out on a practical and human level.”

To donate to the Feed Our Crew initiative, visit the website or email the team at help@feedourcrew.co.za.

 


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Rigger dies amid turbulent Global Citizen: Mandela 100

A rigger who lost his life setting up Sunday’s Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg has been named as Siyabonga Ngodze.

Ngodze, an experienced rigger who formed part of the charity concert’s production team, plummeted to his death on Saturday 1 December. He was helping to set up the stage for the mega-event, hosted by South African comedian Trevor Noah and headlined by Beyoncé and Jay-Z, at FNB Stadium (94,736-cap.) in the Soweto township.

Global Citizen spokesperson Andrew Kirk says the festival is looking into the circumstances surrounding Ngodze’s death. “A rigger working on behalf of a production partner for the Global Citizen Festival suffered fatal injuries arising from a fall at the site,” he tells South Africa’s Sunday Times.

“Global Citizen has been advised that the deceased was an experienced rigger and was wearing all appropriate safety gear and equipment. The circumstances around his death are being investigated.

“Global Citizen extends our deepest sympathies to the family of the deceased and all of his colleagues and friends.”

The free-ticketed Mandela 100 event – which also featured performances by Ed Sheeran, Eddie Vedder, Pharrell Williams and Chris Martin, Wizkid, Usher, Femi Kuti and Cassper Nyovest – aimed to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, the late Marxist revolutionary and former South African president, and continue his fight against extreme poverty.

“Global Citizen extends our deepest sympathies to the family of the deceased”

Current South African president Cyril Ramaphosa used the festival to pledge significant commitments towards education (R60 billion/US$4.4bn and youth projects (R2bn/$147.5m).

“Nelson Mandela has taught us that it is not the influential, the rich or the powerful who make history, but those citizens who are determined to make a difference,” he said.

Actions taken by ‘Global Citizens’ in the run-up to the event are additionally worth nearly R100bn ($7bn), according to the Global Poverty Project, the organisation behind Global Citizen.

Despite the positive economic impact, the Mandela 100 event was also marred by reports of violent assaults and thefts on concertgoers exiting the stadium. “The criminals were basically having a field day,” said Zikhona Tshona, a reporter for the South African news outlet eNCA, the Associated Press reports.

Jacques Grobbelaar of the venue’s operator, Stadium Management, blames the muggings on the lack of police presence, saying while security was tight when the festival kicked off, it thinned out as the evening wore on.

“What we saw happen last night in the precinct is a direct result of the lack of resources in the parking areas, on roads in, near and adjacent to the stadium and the road functions,” he tells Eyewitness News, “which in terms of the planning, were meant to be executed by the JMPD [Johannesburg Metro Police Department] and the South African Police Service.”

 


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Tightening up venue security in South Africa

One dead and eight injured during a concert’ is not the kind of headline anyone would want to wake up to. “A man walked onstage and stopped a music performance at Hillbrow Theatre in Johannesburg, claiming that his phone was stolen. He then pulled out a gun and started firing at random,” the South African press reported.

Apparently, extra security was deployed on the night of the event, which the theatre’s management said was privately organised. How did additional security not eliminate the threat of violence, and how did the shooter get access to the stage in the presence of security guards?

On 22 May 2017 fans of the US pop sensation Ariana Grande attended a show in Manchester, England. The show ended in tragedy after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, most of them children. Then there was the Orlando shooting, the massacre at the Bataclan in Paris and the slaying of Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell. In Europe and the US, terrorism is a big concern, but in South Africa it’s violent crimes without an ideological basis, and often without evidence of major psychological disorders, that take many more lives.

But crime at concerts and performances works the other way around, too. South African kwaito star Makhendlas – the brother of Arthur Mafokate – shot and killed an ‘irritant’ fan in October 1998. The kwaito [a type of African dance music] musician killed himself the following day. This is an old story that highlights safety concerns at events in general. Why did he have a gun and who let him in the venue with a weapon?

The irony of the incident that took place at Hillbrow Theatre last week is that the perpetrator shot up the audience because someone had stolen his cellphone. It seems even criminals are tired of having their personal belongings stolen in public. Ask any concertgoer in South Arica and they will tell you that they’ve had a wallet, car keys or cellphone stolen. The South African media has written much about crime at concerts, but little has been done to ameliorate the situation. Because of this, parents are locking up their children at home come the weekend – and in the process depriving them of the arts. The latest incident will bring even more paranoia to this picture.

There needs to be a hardline policy where every concertgoer, and performer, is thoroughly checked before entering a venue

When people attend festivals they want to feel safe, and should worry only about having a good time. But the South African reality is quite different, and it seems that attending a public event like a concert or festival induces more anxiety than becoming an agoraphobic recluse. You have to get in a car (preferably one that hijackers don’t desire). You drive through the safer areas while ogling every four-way stop like a chameleon. You eventually get to the venue where a car guard tells you that if you don’t pay R70 (US$5) to have your car watched over you can expect a tyre slashing. The gamble comes in when you have to decide whether to leave your cellphone under the seat or take it with you into the venue. Either way, there’s a big chance you won’t see your phone again.

Many venues in South Africa have serious budgets to deal with crime, yet it’s sometimes impossible to control events completely, especially when there are too many people attending. And venue owners say that criminals are always one step ahead in getting loot out of a venue without detection.

Here’s another peculiar fact. According to the Firearms Control Act of 2000, in order to declare a venue a gun-free zone in South Africa, owners have to apply for a permit, which means that they have to own a safe where patrons can leave their guns before entering the venue. But most venue owners don’t go through this process because of red tape, so their venues, technically, are areas in which guns are allowed. This may be a technicality since most venues exercise the ‘right of admission’ policy, but making things official should make gun-bearers think twice. If you’ve been warned, then the repercussions are heftier.

South African venues need to take serious measures to prevent violent crimes from taking place on their premises. There needs to be a hardline policy where every concertgoer, and performer, is thoroughly checked before entering a venue. If live gigs have to begin resembling airports, so be it, but another incident like the one at Hillbrow Theatre should never be allowed to happen again.

 


This article first appeared on Music in Africa.

‘Festivals are better value’: Bassline to close

The Bassline in Johannesburg, arguably South Africa’s most famous medium-sized venue, is to close its doors this month to focus on its festival business.

The 1,000-cap. venue, located in the Newtown neighbourhood, was founded in 1994 by Brad Holmes and has since hosted more than 3,000 shows by some of the biggest names in African and world music.

Holmes tells South Africa’s Eyewitness News: “The venue business itself has become increasingly more difficult, and, generally speaking […] the customer is getting a lot more value out of a festival where he is paying R300 or R400 [US$20–30] and seeing ten acts in a day, whereas when you come into a venue you are seeing one or two acts.

“The venue business has become increasingly difficult, and the customer is getting a lot more value out of a festival”

“It’s also got a lot to do with the economy itself. Everybody is streamlining their business because it makes sense and the world is changing. If you want to survive in the music industry you have got try and be ahead of the curve.”

In addition to focusing on its festival portfolio (which includes Fête de la Musique, Maftown Heights and various Africa Day events), Holmes says Bassline will also expand into artist management and technical production.

PwC estimates the South African live music industry will grow at 7.9% over the next five years.

 


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