The decision to award grants to artists continues to be controversial on social networks. The same channel has been chosen by the supervisory minister to provide a few clarifications and explain the issues involved in this exceptional support operation for the arts.
From artists unhappy about not having received grants, to other professionals expressing their surprise at the amount of aid, to the general public questioning the budget allocated to this operation in these times of crisis, the web has been bubbling with reactions since last Monday, when the details of the grants to the arts sector were announced.
The first to react was the artists themselves with Nouâmane Lahlou’s decision to transfer the amount of this grant to the Special Fund for the Management of the Fight against the effects of the pandemic.
His colleague Said Mouskir has also just announced that he is offering this money to finance social projects. The famous Latefa Raafat for her part denounced this decision as unfair and incomprehensible.
This morning, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Othman El Firdaous, chose the same controversial channel to provide details about this operation. He first of all made a point of recalling that the results of the 2020 call for projects have been made public in the respect of the transparency of public action and to preserve clarity on the use of public funds. “The very hard blow the pandemic has dealt to cultural activity has left many artists and cultural collectives without an order book or the prospect of patronage or sponsorship. The transversal schemes set up thanks to the Covid Fund19 have certainly enabled more than 3700 holders of artists’ cards (old or new) to benefit from the TadamonCovid schemes (Ramed and informal), i.e. an acceptance rate of 70%,” notes the minister.
Faced with this exceptional situation and given the extent of the damage done to the artistic sector, the Ministry mobilised the National Fund for Cultural Action to launch a call for artistic projects. This is, Mr Firdaous recalls, an exceptional support at several levels:
1/ Adaptations introduced into the specifications to cope with the constraints of mobility and assembly which have administrative repercussions to be anticipated.
2/ The number of candidate projects multiplied by three in 2020, rising from 327 in 2019 to 1096. The number of beneficiary projects increased from 155 projects in 2019 to 459 projects in 2020, also multiplied by three.
3/ A global envelope for the arts of MAD 37 million which, although it remains below the record reached in 2016 with MAD 40 million, constitutes an increase of +30% compared to the 2019 support.
He also recalled that the terms of reference published in June 2020 had “clearly spelled out two selection priorities for the three commissions: theatre, music and plastic arts”. The first is to pay particular attention to projects involving a significant number of artists’ card holders who are not civil servants: with an average of ten beneficiaries for each musical or theatrical project, of which at least 70% must be artist card holders (or applicants for it) to be eligible, more than 2,400 artists’ card holders should benefit from the 459 projects selected in 2020. Next come the project leaders who did not receive support: more than 80% of the 459 project leaders selected in 2020 did not receive support in 2019.
In his clarification, the minister points out that his department “is actively working on the dematerialisation of the call for projects process in order to improve communication with all stakeholders, reduce the volume of paper exchanged and facilitate access to support”. And to announce the launch, soon, of a consultation with its various partners to prepare the implementation of this strategic and structuring project.