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SPIER ARTS FESTIVALS REBIRTH (article first published : 2008-01-27)

The Spier Arts Summer Season has been formally adopted by the Africa Centre, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and celebrating the rich history and contemporary practice of African arts and culture.

Now known as the Spier Arts Festivals, the Season’s content has been re-conceptualised to comprise three vibrant festivals spread over the year: poetry, performance and music festivals will expand across the Spier Estate and into the city of Cape Town, from February through to October 2008. Each festival will have a separate team of creative consultants, and will be managed by the Africa Centre.

The Spier Arts Festivals are rooted in the Africa Centre’s raison d’etre – a space where the visual, intellectual and performance cultures of Africa are celebrated, studied and brought to life for diverse audiences in innovative ways. The Festivals will become a celebration of African excellence in the performing arts by promoting South African artists, providing opportunities for collaboration with Pan-African artists and building new audiences for the arts.

The Poetry Exchange, on February 1 and 2, will build on the phenomenal success of the Spier Open Air Poetry Festival, which thrilled and challenged South African audiences in 2006 and 2007. This Festival will be curated by Malika Ndlovu and Lorelle Royeppen-Viegi and performed on the Spier Estate.

The Performing Arts Festival, from February 26 to March 2, will be curated by Brett Bailey and Jay Pather. Using inner city venues in Cape Town, the emphasis will be on developing original work and re-staging works outside of the usual performance spaces -- on the streets, in train stations, churches and other exciting locations.

The Music Festival in October will be hosted in a series of intimate venues throughout Cape Town. The Festival will infuse the city with experimental African music, which explores how and why Africans function within a web of entangled nations. The Festival will be curated by Ntone Edjabe and Neo Muyanga.

“For a variety of historical, political and economic reasons, most of the important collections and productions of African art today are located outside of Africa,” say the organisers. “Thus, most of the continent lives without the mirror that such art, from the past and present, from the North and South, can provide. We live without the art by which we can recognise ourselves. And we live without a vital component of our humanity, one that plays a fundamental role in our development and empowerment as Africans and citizens of the world.

“The Africa Centre was created as a result of these needs and the belief that the time has come for a place where African arts and cultural expression can be nurtured and created, in Africa for Africans. Based in South Africa, the Africa Centre is a physical entity and an ongoing philosophical process, meant to grow spatially and conceptually over time.

Beyond the Spier Arts Festivals, The Africa Centre’s projects include The Spier Contemporary 2007 – an exhibition of over 100 South African artists and a series of awards – is running until February 20 on the Spier Estate. Other projects are an artist-in-residency programme; a high school arts leadership programme with three Stellenbosch high schools; and The Beam Gallery – a gallery developed to allow artists and curators to innovate with shows that do not fit into the existing commercial art market or framework.

As the Spier Arts Festivals are a series of themed, concentrated engagements and will be located on and off the Spier Estate, the Spier Amphitheatre will now host a series of performances during the summer months which are independent of these festivals.

More information from African Equations on behalf of the Africa Centre from Penny Gaines on 021 461 5735 or 082 554 0554 or email: penny@africanequations.co.za




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