NATIONAL NEWS - The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) awarded a R500,000 grant to a brand-new nonprofit company just two weeks after it was registered, to help pay for a music extravaganza staged by acclaimed South African singer, songwriter and activist Simphiwe Dana.
Tickets for the show cost between R500 and R1,500. The Department of Arts and Culture was listed as a sponsor in pre-event marketing, but the NLC was not.
The Black Carrot Organization was first registered with the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission on 29 November 2019, just two weeks before the concert. Dana, interior stylist Siyabesho Thutha and celebrity chef Thembalethu Gwejela were listed as its three directors.
The listed address for the Black Carrot Organization is in Orange Grove, Johannesburg. Also registered at the same address are several other companies with Black Carrot entities, of which Dana is also a director. They are Black Carrot Arts, Black Carrot Creative Solutions and Black Carrot Publishing.
The glittering 2019 event starred Dana performing with international singers Daymé Arocena from Cuba and US-based Rwandan artist Somi, accompanied by a 60-piece orchestra. The concert featured a 30-person choir, a 12-member dance troupe and an all-female band.
But the way in which Black Carrot’s grant was fast-tracked is unusual. Funding applications generally take much longer to approve, allowing for documentation to be properly assessed and checked.
There are also different levels of documentation required to be submitted with an application for a grant, depending on the amount being applied for.
The Black Carrot funding would have been awarded in terms of grants up to R500,000. This requires much less documentation than larger grants but it does require three months of bank and financial statements. Yet the company had only existed for three weeks.
For grants of R501,000 and more, the requirements are far more onerous. Applicants must provide two consecutive years of the most recent annual financial statements, signed and dated by a registered and independent accounting officer or an auditor.
Previous Lottery funding for Symphony Experience
The grant was the second time that the NLC had given money for the Simphiwe Dana Symphony Experience. It previously funded the show in 2017, which was “facilitated by” MIAGI (Music is a Great Investment).
MIAGI, which is registered as both an NPO and a Section 21 nonprofit company, received a R3.55 million grant in 2012 and a further R1.47 million in 2017, according to NLC annual reports. (This is a perfectly legitimate use of lottery grant money – GroundUp Editor.) It was not involved in the 2019 concert.
“The ‘Simphiwe Dana Symphonie Experience’ was a project that MIAGI included in an application to the then NLDTF as part of a multiple-year grant application that was approved end 2009,” said MIAGI’s executive director Robert Brooks. “The total amount for this project was R2,627,500 and was spent according to the items in the grant agreement.
“Complete expenditure was authorised and governed by MIAGI. All invoices were paid from the MIAGI office. Simphiwe Dana merely received her fee. This was a MIAGI project,” Brooks said.