The toll of Covid-19 on the arts and culture sector is undeniable with numerous theatres, museums and galleries closing their doors over the past year and a half while other continue to navigate unknown waters. Happily, various galleries and museums continue to empower local artists.
These include the Phansi Museum and galleries like the KwaZulu Natal Society of Arts (KZNSA), which has opened its doors to two local wire artists, Victor Mpofu and Ezra Sekenhamo. Since 2008, the pair have sold their bright and bold wire creations in Glenwood (between Helen Jospeh and Bulwer Roads). Their artwork was particularly popular with visiting tourists through whom they earned much of their income. However, the pandemic has left a huge gap in the market. Of the impact of Covid, Mpofu shared:
“Covid-19 turned everything upside down. Our business is no longer functioning the way it used to. We used to have people from overseas giving us orders and companies used to give us business but now, there is nothing. We are now living from hand to mouth. Sometimes, we go without selling anything, which makes it hard for us to even pay for the accommodation we reside in.”
Unfortunately, the pair was recently fined R1500 by the Metro Police for not having a trading permit and banned from operating without one. In response to this, many local people rallied behind them in support of their right to work. They argued that they were simply trying to make an honest living and that it was particularly harsh to deny them the right to do so during these precarious economic times.
This is where the KZNSA stepped in, offering the artists a space in which to showcase and sell their work. Mpofu and Sekenhamo aim to offer free lessons to anyone wanting to empower themselves through creativity, highlighting the great sense of camaraderie within the local art community.
Be sure to support this dynamic duo. If you’re able to help or have any ideas that might help them to boost sales and feature at other galleries, contact Victor on 073 599 2315.
Now more than ever, we’ve got to support our local community!