ARTERIAL NETWORK SOUTH AFRICA and VANSA respond to DTI Lottery Policy Review
VANSA worked with Arterial Network South Africa on the development of a submission to the Department of Trade and Industry in response to the Lottery Policy Review document issued by the Department in August 2012. In our response, we raise a number of substantial concerns regarding the proposals of the Department, and make a substantial proposal of our own: that the majority of funding from the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund should be distributed through existing statutory funding agencies such as the National Arts Council, the National Film and Video Foundation and the National Heritage Council. We believe that our proposals - if taken forward - would have a dramatic impact on the sustainability and health of the arts, culture and heritage sector, transforming the Lottery Fund from a source of immense frustration into a powerful resource for the sector.
One of the fundamental concerns that we raise in our submission is the absence of adequate expertise on the Distributing Agency for Arts, Culture and Heritage - the body that makes decisions about the allocation of funds from the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund. We note that eight people (the current members of the Distributing Agency) are effectively responsible for making decisions about the distribution of between R500 million and R1,1 billion per year - this is 80% - 90% of all of the available application-based public funding for arts, culture and heritage in the country in a given year. By contrast, there are more than fifty independent experts that jointly inform the decision-making of the National Arts Council, the National Heritage Council and the National Film and Video Foundation - but together these agencies account for approximately only 10% of the grant funding available in any given year.
We believe that delegating a significant proportion of this finance to these existing agencies would solve a host of problems, and provide a basis for what are presently woefully underfunded agencies to start to exercise their mandates more meaningfully. Our submission contains a number of recommendations as to how this might be done and notes the importance of this delegation of funding being informed by an assessment of the capapcity and performance of each of these agencies. We also recommend that Business and Arts South Africa and the various provincial arts councils be considered for inclusion in this group of 'delegated agencies'.
We also raise substantial concerns regarding the dti's proposed remedy - employing the members of the Distributing Agency on a full-time basis. The Policy Review suggests that this will address the problem of backlogs in responding to applications and allocating funds, and will remove the problem of conflict of interest. We are concerned on a number of fronts:
- fundamentally, it will not solve the problem of the spread of expertise and interests required to make informed decisions about the funding of a large, diverse and complex sector
- we believe that such a measure would effectively nullify the independence of the panel - and we believe that funding decisions should be made by people who are actively engaged with and informed about their sector
- we do not believe that it will have any significant impact on the problems of conflict of interest and corruption, and believe that these issues need to be addressed through proper systems coupled with effective management and leadership around this issue.
To download the full submission to the Department of Trade and Industry, go here.