ANSA/VANSA Response to Lottery Amendment Bill 2013
The Lottery Amendment Bill was tabled for public comment by the Department of Trade and Industry in May. VANSA worked with Arterial Network South Africa in the development of a submission on the content of the Bill endorsed by a broad base of sector organisations. Our submission builds on the detailed input to the Department on its Lottery Review Policy Document - on which the present bill is based - which we submitted in December last year. See also the dti's response to our submission (and those of other organisations) in the download at the bottom of the page.
The Bill contains a number of disturbing features which we have drawn attention to in our submission. The two most significant ones are the following:
- the Bill empowers the National Lotteries Board to allocate funding on an entirely discretionary basis and solicit applications from the sector - we believe that this provision is open to very substantial abuse.
- the Bill would effectively concentrate decision-making on the allocation of funding against applications to a single Distributing Agency composed of nine members, who would be employed as full-time staff of the National Lotteries Board, and would be accountable to the National Lotteries Board alone.
If the Bill is implemented in its current form, nine people would be made responsible for the allocation of between R500 million and R1 billion in arts, culture and heritage Lottery funding each year - more than 80% of the grant-based funding that is available to the sector in any given year. They would additionally be responsible for the allocation of a further approximately R2 billion in funding to Charities and Sports and Recreation. By contrast, the approximately fifty independent experts that adjudicate funding proposals for the National Arts Council, the National Fim and video Foundation and National Heritage Council jointly allocate less than 10% of the available grant funding for arts, culture and heritage per year. Coupled with the track record of the National Lotteries Board to date with regard to turnaround times for the adjudication of proposals, timeous response to reporting and transfer of funds, we believe that this represents an untenable framework in which enormous power is concentrated in the hands of a small number of people, and in which the independence and efficiency of decision-making structures is fundamentally compromised rather than being alleviated.
As in our earlier submission, we have argued that Lottery funds should be distributed through existing state agencies that already have systems and structures in place for the distribution of funding, such as the National Heritage Council, the National Film and Video Foundation and the National Heritage Council. We note that these organisations are also all dramatically underfunded in relation to their expansive mandates and that the cost of distributing funds is disproportionate to the actual value of funds distributed. We make the important point that the simple delegation of Lottery funds to these agencies would have the effect of transforming them into serious grant-making bodies in terms of the scale of funding that they are able to allocate.
We believe that the Amendment Bill will have far-reaching consequences and implications for the entire funding system for the arts, culture and heritage in South Africa. There is the opportunity for the Bill to help to reorient the system in a way that produces coherence between state institutions, efficient use of resources, and an informed and transparent process of adjudication. Alternately, we can further entrench a system in which different state agencies involved in funding duplicate and undermine each other's mandates, operate in opaque, inefficient and unaccountable ways, and in the absence of an adequate and diverse base of knowledge and expertise. In it's current form, we believe that the Bill is setting us firmly on the latter path.
Arterial Network South Africa will be seeking an audience with the parliamentary Portfolio Committees for both Trade & Industry and Arts and Culture, alongside other interventions in the public domain that may be considered. For more information or media inquiries contact Valmont Layne (ANSA Secretary General) at 083 687 1954.
For the dti's response to submissions to the Portfolio Committee go here.
See also a presentation on the bill delivered to an audience of arts stakeholders at the PE Opera House in the Eastern Cape on the 26th of July 2013 here.