Dozens of artists gathered outside the Pinetown magistrate’s court on Wednesday, intensifying their call for the government to amend regulations to allow venues to accommodate more people.

Their appeals come as 32 artists are set to appear in court after they were arrested for staging a protest on the N3 near Durban last week. The accused, all of whom are out on bail, are facing charges of illegal gatherings and contravening road traffic and disaster management laws.

The president of SA Arts and Culture Youth Forum, Romeo Ramuada, said the government needed to heed their calls, which would allow artists the opportunity to make an honest living. He emphasised that the industry wanted government to amend regulations to allow them to host concerts and events at 70% of the capacity any given venue could accommodate.

Ramuada said the industry had engaged with the department of arts & culture at a national level, but they feel as if they are not being taken seriously.

“As usual, our industry has been put at the back.”

In a statement on Tuesday the ANC said it was fully aware of the plight that artists within the cultural and creative industry faced.

“The lockdown measures, which now prevent public gatherings of more than 50 individuals at a time, have no doubt had an adverse effect on the cultural and creative industry.”

The ANC conceded that it was looking at the issues raised by musicians during their protest in Durban last week, as well as the countrywide calls for the consideration of opening the industry at 70% capacity. The party called on the department of arts & culture to engage with the industry to find a speedy solution.

“This should include the development of measures to be followed and observed to avoid the spread of coronavirus specific to the sector. There should be a clear cultural and creative industry recovery plan which will include an industry strategy beyond Covid-19.”

It added that the government should simplify its criteria for Covid-19 relief fund requirements and processes so that it would be easy for the industry to access financial relief.

“The relationship between cultural and creative industries and government must be formalised at all levels and be supported through a written commitment between [the] two parties,” the statement read.