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Artistes to negotiate better pay from Morija festival organisers

Lerato Matheka

MASERU — Talks between the Morija Arts and Cultural Festival and Lesotho Music Rights Association (LMRA) to set a standard payment structure for local artistes are set to resume on Tuesday, XpressPeople can reveal.
Local musicians are up in arms with the festival organisers after they were paid less than their South African counterparts last year.
The move riled local artistes who claimed they were being discriminated against.
LMRA spokesperson, Ramosa Bosiu, confirmed that they will be holding the meeting on Tuesday.
“We are set to meet again on Tuesday.
“Hopefully the outcome will also determine that artistes get better pay and that the gospel concert is included in the programme,” he said.
Bosiu said the meeting comes after negotiations to come up with a standardised payment structure for local musicians reached a deadlock.
“The festival committee seems to understand our cry and they support us but their problem is lack of financial muscle. They said they want to help us but most of their sponsors haven’t confirmed yet,” he said.
“They also added that their sponsors prefer SA artistes because they are huge crowd pullers as opposed to us but the matter has not yet been finalised.”
He said the sudden change of heart by the festival organising committee was after the association lodged a complaint with the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture.
“We had had enough of getting South African artistes being booked and paid large amounts of monies yet we were getting peanuts.
“We then asked the ministry to intervene and we are happy to see that they are on our side,” he said.
In a separate interview, the festival’s director, Thabo Leanya, told XpressPeople the talks are between the association, Morija Museum and the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture.
“We want to reach an agreement where we can book all local artistes under LMRA as the umbrella body.
“We also hope to agree on standardised payments for bookings of artistes,” he said.
Leanya said they are yet to finalise the Sunday programme which normally includes the gospel concert.
“We had sidelined gospel from the festival’s programme in 2010. Last year we decided to give gospel artistes the platform to run a concert within the festival and make their own money but that got many local gospel artistes complaining because only a selected few took part in the concert,” Leanya said.
“To avoid any problems and to help grow the music industry, we are in talks with the association along with the ministry to reach an agreement that will see the festival hiring artistes of different genres,” he said.
Leanya said the LMRA was engaged in the negotiations because it is the ministry’s wing that deals with musicians and arts issues in the country.
The festival organising committee revealed they had dropped the choral concert this year.
“The choral segment won’t be on the programme because we were told that most choirs are preparing for choral competitions which clash with the festival’s dates.”
But Choral Music Federation of Lesotho spokesperson, Sam Letima, rejected Leanya’s claims.
“They plainly don’t want to work with us. We have 42 registered choirs and only two of them are competing in South Africa,” Letima said.
He said festival organising committee must stop making excuses if they do not want to work with them.
“We wonder how they got to that conclusion. I don’t remember talking to the committee.
“If they don’t want to work with us they shouldn’t make up excuses,” Letima said.
Morija Arts and Cultural Festival is set to take place in Morija from September 26 to 30.

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