Artists' Meeting with Minister of Arts and Culture on new law on Artistic and Cultural Associations

Yesterday, I led a contingent of artists and actors in the music space – Dynastie le Tigre, Duc-Z, Chilli Wawaye, Chi Chi Ladislav, Divine Verjika, Tino Foy, accompanied by Barrister Tezo Abanda, to speak with the Minister of Arts and Culture, Hon. Pierre Ismaël Bidoung Kpwatt and his team about the new law on artistic and cultural associations. Thanks to Adeline Mbenkum for setting this up, and Highman General Salatiel who has been working in the background as well to facilitate the larger process. This meeting was not definitive – it is only the beginning of a process of consultation with the Ministry of Arts and Culture to make sure that we as artists get the best deal possible for our art, and especially future generations, who do not deserve to go through what we, and those before, have gone through. so we call on other artists to join us as we embark on the process.

A bit of background. The law came as a massive surprise to may urban actors, and the terms of the law that relate to getting approval for collaborations and financing of musical enterprises and events/festivals, or the dues to be paid by artists,  among others, has generated anger in the musical milieu. 

Many people requested before that I make a statement about this law – conscious of the weight that my word holds, I thought it unwise to speak until I had consulted with my fellow musicians and also with the Ministry itself. 

In the meeting, we did not mince our words about our unhappiness with the law and its provisions, but we also used the occasion to raise two pertinent issues that require urgent attention.  The need for an 80/20 local content quota  of media broadcasters and entertainment venues, as well as better management of ‘droits d’autuers’ (authors and composers' rights), which requires more participation and leadership by the younger generation. 

I won’t go into all the deliberations but here are some of the issues, the response of the Minister, as well as my impressions: 

Is the law necessary?

Ministry: Yes, the music industry is not structured, and it impairs our ability to defend big budgets  and projects for the sectors before the powers that be, or even to take any meaningful action in favour of artists. The current approach of assisting artists with small subventions for productions is neither sustainable nor impactful. 

My impression: There was no structure before, so this should be a welcome move. I was also satisfied by the fact that these associations, companies, guilds and federations are to be set up by artists themselves, and they will have the rubber stamp of the Ministry to decide and run their own affairs – thereby giving artists official powers, backed by the state. This in essence means that the federations will take the current role of the ministry in setting up and approving projects. This law is not going to be rescinded – let’s face reality. We should take advantage of it and organsie ourselves now – so that we make the best of this power that we are being given . 

How will it affect private actors? 

The industry has grown to what it is today because private individuals (youths) took it up themselves to hustle with practically no government support to build. Does this now seize what they have, and put it under the control of the government, to whom they have to start paying ‘dues’? 

Not necessarily. Joining an association, and its resultant structures (companies, guilds, federations) is optional. But it is advantageous to join it because it is the formal  structure that validates our profession locally and internationally. So for example, the federation will apply for visas for you for tours, to ensure that artists are not denied visas when they have international opportunities. In addition, the internal rules and regulations, contributions etc are determined by the artist members, and managed by the artist members, independent of the ministry. So we can fix it or spoil it ourselves. Other benefits such as health and disability insurance etc will also be facilitated by these formal structures, which give artists real bargaining powers. 

The new law will not necessarily kill activities – in fact, it will open up more opportunities and activities. How? 

The new law on decentralization gives more power and financial responsibilities to councils and local authorities at the grassroots level – sub-divisional, divisional, and regional levels. The organisation of formal associations at all these levels will give artists access to local authority funds to develop their trade at that level. In addition, it gives a structure where artists can tour in all the 58 divisions and numerous sub-divisions through the identification and collaboration fo associations under the  companies, guild or federations – thereby increasing access of artists to the public and platforms nationwide. 

Where to from here? 

The application texts of the law are yet to be established. Let us participate and take control of the structure. If we do not, less qualified people may usuro that position, and we be left complaining tomorrow. That is why t is important to expand our base of artists and remain close to the Ministry so that we impact the outcome and application texts, as well as implementation of this law.

80/20 Quota 

The Director in charge let us know that a 2003 law already allocated 60% of broadcast to local content, and 40% to foreign content, and that responsibility is that of Mincom. We said, based on the experience of Nigeria and South Africa, 60% is not enough, and the application is not effective. In addition, it must be an inter-ministerial activity that can be led by MINAC, since MINAC is in charge of the content and MINCOM is in charge of thee broadcast. 

The Minister made a suggestion that I find reasonable: That the battle will be long and arduous because of our lack of documentation and structure, two essential elements that have seriously hampered the formal development of artistic enterprises in Cameroon. The road map will be to place that as a priority within our federation (since we have to determine our own roadmap) and gather the necessary documentation necessary for him to take that before the Presidency. When it comes from a federation (as Fecafoot in the case of football), it moves five times as fast because it is a formal, state recognized structure, rather than a group of artists just advocating with no formal, legal backing.

The issue of merit and politicization of the federations? 

On the issue of merit, we did not get sufficient answers, and the ministry conceded that it is a problem that exists and will continue to exist, but as a federation, we are best placed to set up our own internal regulations to control it. So for example, what happens if names get changed on lists, or opportunities come up and federation leaders choose those artists that they like, or take off those that they do not like? This is a real problem, and perhaps the answer lies in how we organize and regulate ourselves. 

INCENTIVES 

One of the issues we raised with the Minister’s team is that the law talks a lot about punishment for irregular conduct o association leaders, but does not mention incentives for associations that perform well. This is one of the issues that has frightened a lot of people into looking at it from the negative perspective – For example, given the formal structure, associations should be able to apply for investment loans from banks or investment institutions (just like in Nigeria) , or the government should allocate certain benefits to well performing associations. The point was duly noted, and will be taken into account when drawing the application rules of the law. 

GOING FORWARD  - A personal note 

We have a regulatory law – the law can be an opportunity, if we seize it and make it what we want. Nothing exists as yet. We need to get to work and start building our associations from scratch, giving them our own direction, implementing our own rules and building the industry that we want. We now have a legal structure and independence. The Minister has given us his word, and we will hold him to it. 

FINAL NOTE 

There are 24 categories of artistic and cultural activity that ned to be federated. Music is only one of them. Culinary arts, plastic arts, producers, fine arts etc are among the art sectors that need to be structured, regulated and developed. So this is a call to all ARTISTS in all categories to engage in this process and make sure that their industries make the best of the situation. It is not just about music.

21 comments

  • JACKSON
    JACKSON CHINA
    bravo...this is an amazing move. i hope people will stop complaining and unite to make things work. we always look for negative reasons rather than exploit opportunities. I'M 100% for this.

    bravo...this is an amazing move. i hope people will stop complaining and unite to make things work. we always look for negative reasons rather than exploit opportunities. I'M 100% for this.

  • Focho Bertrand
    Focho Bertrand Buea, Cameroon
    Kudos to the advance team on this matter. We pray for better days ahead. Thanks a lot for the clarifications and the encouragement too. We would certainly get to work

    Kudos to the advance team on this matter. We pray for better days ahead. Thanks a lot for the clarifications and the encouragement too. We would certainly get to work

  • Emmanuel Kobi
    Emmanuel Kobi Buea
    Thank you for the report. More thanks for the initiative, time, energy and other resources sacrificed to make this visit. I feel comforted by the optimism in your perspective and a thus lign with your vision that we can use this new bill as a foundation to build the arts/entertainment industries we have long craved for this Nation; One with ever growing and sustainable opportunities for artiss, entertainers, investors and other stakeholders ; where talent not just survives but thrives.

    Thank you for the report.
    More thanks for the initiative, time, energy and other resources sacrificed to make this visit. I feel comforted by the optimism in your perspective and a thus lign with your vision that we can use this new bill as a foundation to build the arts/entertainment industries we have long craved for this Nation; One with ever growing and sustainable opportunities for artiss, entertainers, investors and other stakeholders ; where talent not just survives but thrives.

  • 237 Gossip mail
    237 Gossip mail Douala
    We hope for the better days ahead together we stand on this...

    We hope for the better days ahead together we stand on this...

  • Ntui Rodrique Egbe
    Ntui Rodrique Egbe douala
    this great news wow finally we producers are not going to suffer in studio expecting nothing

    this great news wow finally we producers are not going to suffer in studio expecting nothing

  • @Melcube
    @Melcube Douala
    This is a better tone of conversation than before. Let's hope the amendments are done. Good job guys!

    This is a better tone of conversation than before. Let's hope the amendments are done. Good job guys!

  • Roza choco Bakanja
    Roza choco Bakanja West- Bafoussam
    Yo!! I could not hold my self from taking a detailed look. I'm overwhelmed with satisfaction to see that we still have brave artist with innovative and go-foward mind set. Let the positive energy visa- vis these perspectives grow and be strengthen as all the other artists join hands to see a better outcome. #fortheculter #togetherwestand #mboko

    Yo!!
    I could not hold my self from taking a detailed look. I'm overwhelmed with satisfaction to see that we still have brave artist with innovative and go-foward mind set.

    Let the positive energy visa- vis these perspectives grow and be strengthen as all the other artists join hands to see a better outcome.
    #fortheculter
    #togetherwestand
    #mboko

  • Perlans fornyuy
    Perlans fornyuy Yaounde
    Thanks allot.. Mr wax dey There exist just a few persons like you who have this industry at heart and engage into activities that will grow it . May your days be bless and filled with wisdom and knowledge.. #icicestkamer

    Thanks allot.. Mr wax dey
    There exist just a few persons like you who have this industry at heart and engage into activities that will grow it .
    May your days be bless and filled with wisdom and knowledge..
    #icicestkamer

  • Perlans fornyuy
    Perlans fornyuy Yaounde
    Thanks allot.. Mr wax dey There exist just a few persons like you who have this industry at heart and engage into activities that will grow it . May your days be bless and filled with wisdom and knowledge.. #icicestkamer

    Thanks allot.. Mr wax dey
    There exist just a few persons like you who have this industry at heart and engage into activities that will grow it .
    May your days be bless and filled with wisdom and knowledge..
    #icicestkamer

  • Mr Tosam
    Mr Tosam Yaounde
    This is quite reasonable and we hope this is not just another story from the government! We are ready to take responsibility. Kudos to the team

    This is quite reasonable and we hope this is not just another story from the government! We are ready to take responsibility. Kudos to the team

  • Sweemiel
    Sweemiel West-Bafoussam
    That's promising as initiative. We just need to unite in bringing up strong associations in hope that the minister will stick to his words. Big up to you king Wax dey and the delegation that surrounded you! Let's remain united and strong💪💪💪 💖💖💖💖

    That's promising as initiative. We just need to unite in bringing up strong associations in hope that the minister will stick to his words. Big up to you king Wax dey and the delegation that surrounded you! Let's remain united and strong💪💪💪 💖💖💖💖

  • Pizzy
    Pizzy Buea
    Mr. WaxDey, I love this step you all pull out to help the music industry in our Nation and may God Almighty Bless you all. I'm behind you all and i really wish to meet you one day for more updates about the Theme. We really love dealing in Music, not because of music money but also because we want to put our growing generation up to Nationwide. God Bless all the Delegate that took part in this Move 🌏🌎🌍🙏

    Mr. WaxDey, I love this step you all pull out to help the music industry in our Nation and may God Almighty Bless you all. I'm behind you all and i really wish to meet you one day for more updates about the Theme. We really love dealing in Music, not because of music money but also because we want to put our growing generation up to Nationwide. God Bless all the Delegate that took part in this Move 🌏🌎🌍🙏

  • GRACE AT WORK PRODUCTIONS
    GRACE AT WORK PRODUCTIONS BUEA- CAMEROON
    Without TRUST, TIME, LOVE and the spirit of PROMOTION, Will give our Nation and Youths a better Life and a perfect recognition World Wide..#SelflessPromoters

    Without TRUST, TIME, LOVE and the spirit of PROMOTION, Will give our Nation and Youths a better Life and a perfect recognition World Wide..#SelflessPromoters

  • MOLY TOWN
    MOLY TOWN Ottawa, ON Canada
    We all know what is happening in fekafoot. Let's all hope for the best. But Personally I will keep my independence. Cuz base on every structure that exists in under/within the Government, The distribution of access and resources will be prioritize to a chosen few.

    We all know what is happening in fekafoot. Let's all hope for the best. But
    Personally I will keep my independence. Cuz base on every structure that exists in under/within the Government, The distribution of access and resources will be prioritize to a chosen few.

  • Kelvin Jam, #MaisonNyongonaGuitar
    Kelvin Jam, #MaisonNyongonaGuitar Yaounde
    Great input bro. We are grateful that you took this initiative. The talk is quite smooth and we must seek to get the best out of it, if we don't some other persons will.

    Great input bro. We are grateful that you took this initiative. The talk is quite smooth and we must seek to get the best out of it, if we don't some other persons will.

  • Mbora Francois
    Mbora Francois Douala
    Honestly I find it super thrilling, its a great initiative for the entire industry and the country of course. I just want to emphasize on the issue of MERIT AND POLITIZARION OF THE FEDERATION given the country we are in. In my opinion this aspect can best ruin the initiative if poorly managed as well as it can take it beyond the stratosphere. People should get what they deserve...THIS IS CAMEROON.

    Honestly I find it super thrilling, its a great initiative for the entire industry and the country of course. I just want to emphasize on the issue of MERIT AND POLITIZARION OF THE FEDERATION given the country we are in. In my opinion this aspect can best ruin the initiative if poorly managed as well as it can take it beyond the stratosphere. People should get what they deserve...THIS IS CAMEROON.

  • Ezeh Roy
    Ezeh Roy USA
    This is what we needed before jumping into social media and criticizing the government. They have just given artist the opportunity to get what is theirs. If well plan and structured with the suport of the government as its the case now, artist in cameroon could be able to live by their art. Brovo to those who took time to dick this information out.

    This is what we needed before jumping into social media and criticizing the government.
    They have just given artist the opportunity to get what is theirs. If well plan and structured with the suport of the government as its the case now, artist in cameroon could be able to live by their art.
    Brovo to those who took time to dick this information out.

  • Dboy
    Dboy South Africa
    This was a great platform for artists to put their case forward. Much respect to the team that went out to represent artists/creatives. There is more power in being represented by a legally recognized structure as opposed to individuals. I’m certain we will be able to deliberate on long-lasting and efficient solutions for each of the points mentioned.

    This was a great platform for artists to put their case forward. Much respect to the team that went out to represent artists/creatives. There is more power in being represented by a legally recognized structure as opposed to individuals. I’m certain we will be able to deliberate on long-lasting and efficient solutions for each of the points mentioned.

  • Owen
    Owen Douala
    A good move I think this will also help upcoming artists

    A good move I think this will also help upcoming artists

  • Mr At
    Mr At UAE
    I only believe if all work together with truth and love! All other things will ful in place

    I only believe if all work together with truth and love! All other things will ful in place

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