Tag Archives: South Africa

Response to Linda Bukhosini’s Press Release Regarding the Mayville Workshops

By: Steven Stead
Executive Director: KickstArt

Ms Bukhosini alleges that I (as an individual) “continuously refuses” to align myself with “reasonable business opportunities that are available to him and other arts practitioners who do business with The Playhouse Company”
Since this is the first time that I have publicly questioned her decisions or judgement, I cannot understand how my ‘recalcitrance’ is “continuous”. Unless she is referring to the opera programme, Bravissimo where she employed me as director and then insisted that I accept the production team that she had selected for me, against standard international theatre practise, leaving me no choice but to resign from the job. Or when I refused to allow her to censor a few topical political references from our family pantomime Aladdin, which she found offensive. Or most recently when she tried to remount my successful production of My Fair Lady without crediting me or consulting me, again in disregard of standard international theatre practise. In all these cases, I agree that reasonable business practise was flouted. But not by me. Could the fact that I am one of the only people in the city who stands up to her have ANYTHING to do with the bullying we continuously face?
The Playhouse does have a mandate from the Department of Arts and Culture to be supporting grass-roots artistic activity in the province. She doesn’t mention this in her press release.
If The Playhouse is “continuously committed to equitable distribution of available resources to address the varying artistic and cultural needs of our society and to maximize on possible income streams”, then why make an already unproductive workshop more redundant by denying access to the paying public?
I am not an individual in this case. I represent a company. My company employs dozens of actors and artisans every year, and serves a public of over 40 000. Her decision to make our work difficult doesn’t just affect me. It affects everyone who enjoys our work.
There are several businesses including a magician’s workshop, a rope factory and a martial arts studio run from the premises. Again, she fails to address this issue in her press release.
The amounts of money we have directly paid the Playhouse for hire and refurbishment Jan 2009-Jan 2010 are: Cinderella R22 0000, Little Shop of Horrors R19 837.50, Winnie the Pooh R19 340.39, Noises Off R33 845, and Peter Pan R20 105. TOTAL: R115 127.89. A remaining R60 000 was spent on workmen in the workshops for their labour, and for materials.
Where her figure of R36 812 comes from is curious.
She doesn’t address the fact that we have received top advice from a risk management consultant regarding indemnity, which is standard national working practise. Doubtless the various businesses currently renting space at Mayville have such documents in order, as does anyone hiring any of the theatres in the complex.
She also doesn’t address the fact that there is no skilled scenic artist or painter at Mayville, and that any production that has had any success, whether it is KickstArt’s, or The Playhouse’s My Fair Lady (2006) or Sound of Music (2007) has not only required Greg King’s expert design and ability to reuse old, unused stock pieces, but his hands on ability to paint backcloth’s and do all set dressing. Her recent production of My Fair Lady largely had to be built in Johannesburg because the workshops were not capable of producing the cloths required.
We believe that Ms Bukhosini’s actions are motivated by professional jealousy and personal spite, and we have nothing to lose in fighting this battle. We will continue to create art and entertain Durban, with or without her support.

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Response to BY Theatre owners letter.

If you want to read what it says then go to the post called “Chris Luke responds to Barnyard article” posted on the 19/02/2010.

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Know Your Rights!!

This was also posted as a comment by Chris Luke.

MPE (My Previous Employer) are reacting to our initiative and making changes: MPE are handing out contracts: They covered themselves nicely for the March run of their South African show in KZN. Everyone in this cast got contracts and only because we encouraged an investigation from their endorsee, which took place in January. MPE got wind of our request on our sites and did something about it in fear of losing that endorsement. None of the performers in that show have had signatures on contracts for the last couple of years and now they have them. I was in that show since 2003 and travelled abroad with it in 2008 and 2009. So, that was an accomplishment.
MPE have taken down all boards and banners at Cresta with my image on it (the outside board was new and it’s been removed hastily) – this is what I wanted, as I am having a media war with MPE in KZN over rights to images and with regard to false advertising. (Please see the links below). Check your new contracts as to your rights regarding this issue; in fact, all of you should be supplied with a model release form to cover yourselves on this issue. KZN are using my image to advertise the show in March. That is called false advertising. MPE CANNOT USE YOUR IMAGE IN PERPETUITY. I personally do not want my image associated with the brand.
Further: The issue of contracts is not solved:
Firstly, please note: This initiative DOES NOT apply to actors who work for MPE with agents (i.e. for the shows R and G etc.). MPE are forced to supply contracts for those shows because actors work with individual agents. And their agents must have contracts. Musicians and singers however, DO NOT work on this system – they fend for themselves when it comes to contractual issues. So when MPE says: ‘we do supply contracts, here they are’ and show investigators piles of contracts from those  shows that is a circumvention of the issue.
Secondly, this is not about pay slips or UIF. All of those MPE can provide and when they get investigated it looks impressive.
Thirdly, this is about contractual rights of performers. This is about (and this is who this initiative is aimed at) all of you at MPE, primarily musicians and singers who have worked for MPE for over two or three consecutive runs i.e. 6 to 8 months and keep getting booked for consecutive runs. They keep you on, and on, and on for years at a time. You think it’s great because (even though you don’t have a contract) you are getting work. 5 years pass and you realize that if MPE had to drop you for the next two runs, you are going to be out of work for 6 months. You are going to lose 6 months salary because trying to get back into the loop (the music industry that that you left 5 years ago) isn’t going to happen in 6 months. So all the assets that you have accrued with your so-called ‘permanent’ salary at MPE can’t be sustained for the next six months.
Permanent employment according to Labour Law is working over 40 hours a month for more than three months. You are working over 70 hours a month and do free rehearsals. In fact, you are permanently at the disposal of MPE. That means you are entitled to permanent employment benefits. i.e paid breaks or holidays (and a whole host of other things)
PLEASE NOTE: If you have worked for MPE for 1 solid year, or 2, 3 , 4 , 5 and in some cases 8 years (and there are many of you) and MPE’s intention is to keep you on for another year in that show, or in another show, and you cannot leave the show and put in a replacement AT ANY TIME OF YOUR CHOOSING – THEN YOU NEED A PERMANENT EMPLOYEE CONTRACT.
Fourthly, if you are doing runs of shows for MPE and they are taking up most of your year, but they are not consecutive runs – YOU ARE ENTITLED TO AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR CONTRACT. This means that you are entitled to work with a dep (replacement) by law and you can sustain your career outside of MPE protecting you from needless loss of income when a show run ends. If MPE took this seriously and changed protocol, you could triple your salary (do all the well paying corporates) and still perform for MPE while you work six to eight months of the year for them.
Fifthly, protocol has to be set by MPE with regard to these issues. If it is not, then double standards occur i.e. some people get to put in replacements but others do not. Some people are fined but others are not. (MPE cannot fine anyone for putting in a replacement).
I URGE ALL SINGERS AND MUSICIANS AT MPE TO LOOK AT YOUR NEW CONTRACTS AND REASSESS THEM IN THE ABOVE TERMS. This system could work perfectly, all of you, including MPE could be happy. It’s time MPE did this by the book. You are entitled to assess your contract and you are entitled to a forum for grievances by law. You are also entitled to paid rehearsals. And you are entitled to be insured when you are on stage or in the building for work. If you are dismissed unfairly, or dropped before a run: If you can prove that you have worked for them for that period of time and they can’t show you a contract with your signature on it then yours is a cut and dried case at the CCMA.
The turn in the tide is now people. Do not let MPE take advantage of you. Change has and will come. The better you are informed and educated the better you can protect yourself.
Chris Luke

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Some Positive Action by B.Y.

The post below was sent in as a comment by Chris Luke but I believe it is important enough to use as a post because it shows that, with passion and belief in what is right, things that have been wrong for years can start to change.
*
From Chris Luke.
I’d just like to let you all know that BY Productions are obviously taking this more seriously than the BY franchise owners in KZN having recently removed their very new outside board at Cresta. The Board was very big, about 4 by 5 meters and had recently come up – one of the large images was of myself. This board is gone as well as the banner on the inside of the mall which had hung there for years and years – this had several large images of myself on it. I am glad to see that for once BY are actually listening and taking the awareness we have created seriously.  Was that in anticipation of my settlement on (changed to) Friday  – regardless, things are actually getting done. Fantastic.
We are the first (all support be praised) to give BY the shove they needed toward thinking about their protocol.

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Barnyard responds in press

TO THE EDITOR of the North Glen News

My response to Debbie Davidson: Letter posted in the North Glen News (week of the 19th February), Page 8 entitled:  ‘Barnyard Responds to Smear Campaign’.

I would like my response to be printed in your newspaper in full – no alterations, no adjustments. It has been edited grammatically by my proofreader. If you cannot print this response in your newspaper (at 377 words), I will get another newspaper to print it.Since I have been attacked in your newspaper, it would only be fair that you print my response.

Please see the links to the sites below, which pertain to the issues of artist exploitation:

An Internet group with 475 members, including highly respected actors, top artists and ex-Barnyard performers. The site is public. Please go to the discussion box and read the posts, particularly the twelve issues of protocol:

http://www.facebook.com/#/group.php?gid=214491581513&ref=mf

Please watch the video of Barnyard performers in Sun City who speak their testimonies. None of these performers had a contract. This was a case for the Health Department. The showgirls were on stage with unwashed hair for a week:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hEAhZyyDwE

The Claw Project. My reply to Davidson’s letter will be posted on this site within the next two days. I will be expecting your print and my post to look the same

https://patrickbd.wordpress.com

This is not a smear campaign. It is a well-informed fight for artists’ rights. It is the way we are battling this issue without a union. As a newspaper, I hope that you will remain impartial and tell both sides of the story.

Thank You

Chris Luke

** Chris Lukes response will be posted tomorrow morning.**

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Weekend Argus article.

DIRECT LINK TO ARTICLE

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More letters to the Argus

26/01/2010

Dear Sir

In the response to the article that appeared in the Sunday Argus Magazine about Colin Law and the Jacques Brel show:

Colin Law has been operating for over twenty years in a highly questionable fashion in an industry that is all about beauty and soul. He has been in and out of court many times. This cycle of dubious ethics must end. There are scores of artists who will have nothing to do with this man and want him out of the industry.

Are you aware that there is presently a valid and still-pending court order out on Colin Law (that relates to a production company) dating back to 1996 for an amount of R800 000. 00? Colin Law was ordered by the court to pay said company regular instalments – he paid one instalment and then reneged on the rest of the legal agreement. The interest on the accumulation of the debt he owes is somewhere in the region of R800 000. 00. People like the CEO of Artscape,  (who was disgusted to hear that he was involved in one of the Artscape’s recent productions, as his self-tarnished reputation has led him to operate under a pseudonym), and the head of the Ballet Company want nothing to do with him. An award-winning director in Cape Town is owed R46 000.00 for a recent broken agreement. The list goes on. I, myself, have been a victim of his “non-payment policy.” Colin Law’s indiscretions do not simply relate to a few individual artists – he has successfully succeeded in alienating most of the industry, CEO’s and the like.

There is no union to protect performers. If there were a union, artists would be protected from people like Colin Law. There are many performers in the industry who are being abused because there is no union. Why don’t you get one of your journalists to write an article about that?

Please take note of the number of members that Facebook Internet groups like, My Previous Employer Exploits Performing Artists, which relates to The Barnyard Theatre franchise – 330 members. Among these are respected artists who have been abused by said company, people with the backbone to put their names to this cause and, in so doing, forfeit their next contract and their income. That is a special achievement in this fight for performers’ rights. Facts like that and testimonies of past employees of that theatre franchise will be accompanying me as I take them to court this year.

Please look up The CLaw Project online, which relates to the many indiscretions of Colin Law.

Chris Luke.

**********

26/01/2010

Dear Sir

I was quite shocked to see the article on Colin Law, which sung his praises, in last Sunday’s Argus Magazine. This is a man who has been a producer in the performance industry for over twenty years and who has systematically broken contract after contract. He is an individual notorious for not paying his artists and has been exploiting actors, singers and musicians for over two decades. There is a list of artists who have stories about Colin Law and his unethical dealings in an industry, which, as it stands, is already a breeding ground for exploitation, lies and dubious business practices. Because there is no union, artists are at the whim of the producer and because work is so scarce artists will take on what is given to them, often out of desperation. Mr Law has taken advantage of this situation time and time again and I find it appalling that your paper has glorified him to such an extent. He is so well known for his illegal practices that he has been forced to work under a false name. I encourage you to do some research on this man and also on the lack of an artists’ union in this country. I doubt you would want your paper to be associated with such contention.

Ashleigh Harvey.

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