It is often heard in writers’ circles that the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) does nothing for writers, so I set off to find out if that is true.
To be as transparent as one should be regarding such matters- I sent them a questionnaire on the 13th of February, I got the answers back on the 5th of June. But let’s look closer at the data they eventually provided.
Between 2007-2011, the Department of Arts and Culture has disbursed P475,381.41, this works out to about P95,076.28 per year. The money was used for various projects, among them:
Funding of books, published or launched:
When a Man Cries and The Road of No Return by Balisi Nchenje
The Moment of Truth by Catherine Modungwa
Pulamadibogo (Setswana Poetry) by Nonofo Mosung
Eloi! Rediscovering the Lost Legacy of Loe by Letlhogonolo Mark Leteane
A book about Mochudi by Kgosi Segale Linchewe
Tlou: The Elephant Story (launch) by Bontekanye Botumile
They funded workshops run by WABO, Silent Voices Theatre Ensemble, and the Literary Arts Association of Botswana and also funded writers to attend literary festivals and exhibits. I was funded to go to the London School of Economics Space for Thought Festival, TJ Dema was funded to attend a literary festival in Paris and Enole Disele was funded to attend an exhibit in Washington DC. They’ve also funded the annual Maun International Poetry Festival.
I asked the Department the following questions regarding their funding for writers:
In what ways can writers get help from your department?
a. Book publishing
b. Organising workshops, exhibitions and/or book fairs
c. Attending local and international workshops and exhibitions and or book fairs
d. Capacity building i.e. attend short courses organised by DAC
We’ve seen other areas of the arts benefiting from Arts and Culture is there a reason why writers have been left behind?
Writers have been benefiting from DAC just like other areas of the arts.
What is the best way for a writer to approach the Department?
DAC has an open door policy for all arts and culture practitioners including writers thus writers can contact our offices physically or even telephonically on any issue of concern. Our contacts are:
i. Head Offices: P/Bag 00291, Tel: 3951550
ii. Kanye Regional Office: P O Box 10648 Kanye, Tel: 5442565
iii. Ghanzi Regional office: P/Bag 0020, Tel: 6596437
iv. Maun Regional Office: P/Bag 390, Tel: 6862136
v. Francistown Regional Office: P/Bag F 159, Tel: 2418011/2417996
vi. Serowe Regional Office: P O Box 1804, Tel: 4637005/960
Are there projects you specifically will not consider?
It depends on availability of funds, viability and sustainability of the proposed initiative.
Is there a project officer specifically assigned to the literary arts?
The arts and culture industry is served by a projects unit that covers all categories under one roof. There is no special dispensation for any category.
Are there initiatives, originating from the Department specifically targeting writers in the country?
At the moment writers can only benefit through the Arts and Culture Grant. The Arts and Culture Grant is available during a scheduled funding period when writers can apply for assistance through our offices country wide.
So what’s your take on this? Is the Department of Arts and Culture doing enough for writers? Are they using the money in an effective way? Let’s talk about it on the It’s All Write- The Column Facebook Page. (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Its-All-Write-The-Column/102885966417619)