b'[Q] PLEASE COMMENT ON THE STATE OF THE ARTS SECTOR IN SOUTH AFRICA PRIOR TO COVID-19, AS WELL AS HOW THE PANDEMIC HAS AFFECTED THE SECTOR.Prior to COVID-19, the arts and culture sector of South Africa was in a very interesting and somewhat transitional state, with conversations centered around the huge inequality gap and its effects on access and transformation, declining audiences and changing forms, and a lack of funding support or appreciation of the sector. On the other hand, conversations around the advent of digital media and its influence on the sector were increasing, as artists had begun engaging and experimenting with virtual platforms across the value chain. In light of this, the global pandemic has been both a catalyst and disruptor to the sector. It has provided many artists and cultural organisations with an opportunity to revise old ways of working and creating; has helped them reach new and more diverse audiences, and definitely helped fast track the migration or incorporation of digital systems. Moreover, and more importantly, it has pulled focus to the very critical issue around the sectors acute reliance on public funding. With the cancellations of events and shows, as well as the diversion of funds to other essential sectors, the pandemic has also highlighted the underlining issue of the perceived value of the sector and the limitations around skills and knowledge across strategic or growth planning, etc. All of these have contributed to the closure of a number of organisations, which has caused inevitable and widespread distress for the whole sector on various levels.[Q] HOW HAS BASA RESPONDED TO THE CHALLENGE? Like most organisations, BASA was forced to pause certain operations and we spent some time re-strategising ways to meaningfully respond to this new challenge. Since then, BASA has created the #HeyFriend campaign, which was used as a platform to drive conversations around how different people were responding to the pandemic. It was also used to showcase efforts by other key players in the sector, and to drive attention to the Artist Relief Fund BASA launched to assist South African artists who have been infected and affected by COVID-19. This included projects, such as The Instagram Auction held with Between 10and5, UNFESTIVAL SA with UJ, and The Mandela Day 67 Grants, launched with the IDC Gallery.In Conversation with Boitumelo[Q] HOW HAVE GOVERNMENT AND Tumy Motsoatsoe (She/Her) BUSINESS WORKED TOGETHER TO PRODUCE SOLUTIONS TO PROTECT THE CREATIVE SECTOR?In the case of the cultural sector, we have seen public and private partnerships focusing primarily on repurposing funds to allow for the provision of relief funding or fundraising initiatives to help support artists, either through skills development programmes or direct relief funding. For example, the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) has worked through its agencies such as the NFVF, the National Arts Council (NAC) and of course Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), as channels through which to further support artists. 12'