Lahlou said his fans’ respect and love is better and more valuable than any financial support.
Rabat – Nouamane Lahlou, a leading Moroccan artist and musician, announced his decision to donate the support funds he received from the Culture Department, within the Ministry of Culture, to Morocco’s Special Fund for the Management and Response to COVID-19.
Morocco’s Culture Department unveiled the support program on Monday, with a budget of
MAD 39 million ($4.2 million), MAD 14 million ($1.5 million) of which is directed to 146 projects relating to music, songs, and choreography.
Amid criticism from many public figures, citizens, and activists, Nouamane Lahlou released a statement to announce his decision, asking the Department of Culture to send the funds he received to the COVID-19 Special Fund.
Lahlou said he decided to stop production on his latest works and not to benefit from the financial aid from the Culture Department.
“If the [the ministry] approves, I want to send the financial aid to the COVID-19 Fund,” Lahlou wrote.
The iconic singer said the situation requires frankess, saying that his fans’ love and respect is better than any financial aid.
“I made my decision to stop the production process and not to receive the financial aid to avoid any misjudgement, understanding or interpretation.”
Nouamane Lahlou announced his decision after many public figures, activists, and artists released criticizing statements about the support program.
Among the artists and musicians who criticized the program are iconic Moroccan singers Latifa Raafat and Hayat El Idrissi.
A call to reprioritize assistance
Latifa Raafat took to social networks to call on the ministry to assist the artists who need help due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said that some musicians had to sell their instruments to live because of the suspension of activities, such as wedding parties, due to COVID-19.
Latifa Raafat also called on the ministry to protect artists, saying that leading artists do not have social security.
“I have social security because I have my company and I am among people who thought about making alternative projects to make a living,” she said.
The singer denounced that while many citizens, including musicians, are living in difficult conditions, some artists who are barely known received funds ranging between MAD 40,000 and MAD 180,000 ($4,327 to $8,655).
“It breaks my heart that is why I had to open up about this. I never went to live my life, and this live does not mean that I am mad because I want to share my concerns.”
Inadequate support for Moroccan artists
Latifa Raafat said that she is not mad because she did not receive funding, but she feels sad to see some artists who are in need not included on the list.
“I have been producing my songs with my own money. And luckily I invested in some projects to make a living from,” she said, suggesting that art is not receiving the value it deserves in Morocco.
In tears, Latifa Raafat also urged the Minister of Youth, Sports, and Culture, Othman El Ferdaous, to personally check such lists and verify where the funds are going, saying she knows many musicians who are now selling their equipment live under difficult circumstances.
When some artists who do not even have social security, they don’t find support, she deplored.
“Luckily his majesty the King takes care of artists when they experience an illness and orders authorities to send us to Sheikh Zayed clinic or the military hospital in Rabat for medical care.”
Hayat El Idrissi, a leading singer, said the path of Moroccan songs ended in the 1980s, condemning the lack of support for Moroccan key artists and singers.
“We sang for free in several national events for free. Isn’t it legitimate to also ask for our rights?”