Government Pulled Into Roadie Row

Having failed to persuade the concert promoters and production chiefs to attend “clear the air” talks before the beginning of next year, South African Roadies Association chief Freddie Nyathela is now calling for the government to get involved.

He’s written to newly appointed arts and culture minister Paul Mashatile, who has already said his department will now be known for more than just the place that people go to for free tickets to events.

Technical Production Services Association chairman Robbie Blake offered to set up an open forum to discuss Nyathela’s grievances, which focus on his claim that concert promoters such as Big Concerts and production houses including Gearhouse, Mushroom Productions, Running Crew, and Sho-Show-Loza are racist in choosing not to give work to his members.

The companies deny that their decision not to use SARA crew is based on racist grounds, pointing out that at least half of their workers on any given show day are non-white.

Big Concerts chief Attie van Wyk, who co-promoted the first multi-racial concert to be held in South Africa after the breakdown of apartheid, has warned Nyathela that his comments regarding racism are defamatory.

Blake says this is the busiest time of the year and he doesn’t expect many of his TPSA members would be able to attend an open forum before January, which prompted Nyathela to contact Mashatile to intervene and hurry the matter.

“It became obvious that in order for this process to have any positive and genuine resolutions and way forward, our government has to be involved as this is a national matter,” he said.

Nyathela claims the minister has already promised to support SARA and its youth development activities and expects to meet him to discuss the open forum with the promoters and production firms in the next two weeks.

“It is very encouraging that finally after 16 years we have a minister who sees the importance of our industry, the technical and production services sector,” Nyathela explained.