MASERU — Musicians who will perform at the Morija Arts and Cultural Festival next week will smile all the way home after they secured a 100 percent increment on their allowances.
The Lesotho Music Rights Association (LMRA) said gospel artistes who will perform at the festival will be paid M10 000 while famo artistes will get M15 000 for their services.
The new payment deal is a huge jump from the M5 000 the artistes were paid last year.
The festival will run from Wednesday to September 30 in Morija, about 45 kilometres south of Maseru.
LMRA spokesperson, Ramosa Bosiu, told XpressPeople on Friday that they sealed the deal after long and difficult talks with the artistes.
“We had reached a deadlock in our past meeting that was attended by LMRA committee members, the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture representatives and the Morija Arts and Cultural Festival organising committee but last week we reached an agreement,” Bosiu said.
“The festival committee had said they did not have money but we raised our issues and we are happy that local artistes are now going to be paid a minimum of M10 000 for gospel and M15 000 for famo artistes.”
He added: “The M5 000 that we used to pay artistes is now part of history and we are happy that we have a standard payment rate for local artistes performing at the festival.”
Bosiu thanked the government for intervening in their negotiations with festival organisers.
He said the new coalition government headed by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane appeared to understand that the arts sector is an industry on its own that can generate thousands of jobs for artistes.
“The new government understands our grievances and that our industry puts food on the table and help create employment,” Bosiu said.
He added that the music industry should be formalised because “we pay taxes, hire people and expect to make a profit”.
Bosiu said the deal showed that artistes are slowly getting the recognition they deserve.
“The festival is the first project towards growing music as an industry in the country and if others won’t comply we will continue to involve the government to take them to task,” Bosiu said.
He advised other artistes to join the association.
“The association is here to help artistes and support them. So if we don’t know an artiste how do they expect us to help them?” he said.
In a separate interview the festival’s director, Thabo Leanya, said the relationship formed between the festival and LMRA will help them have a clear working plan with local artistes.
“We have agreed on standard payment rates and will soon draft a memorandum of understanding where artistes would be categorised according to their musical standards and they would be paid accordingly,” he said.
Leanya said the agreement will help the festival organizers to measure their involvement in artistes’ development.
“This is a positive move for both parties.”
“At least we are not going to be accused of booking the same artistes or underpaying local artistes so I am very happy with the relationship.
“We are going to set parameters and it is going to provide a smooth working environment,” Leanya said.