Minister R30 million National Philharmonic Orchestra opposed

South Africans are angered by the proposed R30 million proposal by the Department of Sport, Arts, and Culture to form a National Philharmonic Orchestra (NPO). The R22 million gigantic flag initiative by Minister of Sport, Arts, and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has only recently been mocked by the country.

The proposal has infuriated South Africans, who believe that the funds may be transferred to places that urgently require help. Many orchestras across the nation have expressed loud disapproval of the initiative.

John Maytham, CEO of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, told journalists that the project was not essential because there are other programs in place that provide training for aspiring musicians. South Africans don’t require the NPO, he claimed, and the nation cannot afford to have one. It would be a complete waste of money, Maytham continued.

Jitske Brien, a veteran of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra who plays in the Durban City Orchestra, said the NPO’s formation is unbelievable in an interview with Briefly News. “There hasn’t been money to pay musicians which has caused many of them to leave provincial orchestras. No auditions have been done to find musicians for the national group which is apparently paying incredible amounts. Certain players are being hand-picked,” she said.

Brien also mentioned the are excellent training programs offered by local orchestras. The NPO asserts that it too will have projects that are similar.

“Existing orchestras are not being supported by the government and I cannot understand the reason behind the formation of a national orchestra. Most musicians have never received an increase for many years and the lack of funds are a major problem. The national orchestra is a huge slap in the face,” she added.

A national orchestra would not be feasible, according to Willem Vogel, artistic director of the Brooklyn Theatre, Erik Albertyn, artistic director of the Eastern Cape Philharmonic, and Willem Vogel, artistic director of the Gauteng Philharmonic. One orchestra would be useless, according to Albertyn, who claimed that the proposal is impractical. Vogel says individual orchestras might use the funds far more effectively.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa has come under fire from political parties and cultural activists for his rising “appetite” to spend money on projects that the public does not perceive as essential service delivery-related issues.

“From the outset, we wish to state that we recognize the central significance of arts, culture, and heritage in the cultural, social, and intellectual life of the country.“However, in light of the recent poor decisions being made by the department among others, the much-criticized R22m monumental flag project as well as the department’s highly publicized struggles to support artists during the Covid-19 pandemic, one must ask if the establishment of this new orchestra is feasible and affordable?” said IFP chief whip in the National Assembly, Narend Singh. He questioned the need to spend so much money on an orchestra when there were other established orchestras representing the genre.

“The DA utterly rejects the minister’s newest hare-brained scheme to establish a National Philharmonic Orchestra to the tune of R30m for the first year alone. It seems the minister has learned nothing from his R22m flagpole and Afrikaanse Taalmuseum en Monument debacles,” said DA deputy spokesperson on sport, arts, and culture Veronica van Dyk.

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