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CALL FOR ACTION (article first published : 2001-05-17)

June 2001 is set to be an important time in the lives of performing arts practitioners nationwide. Regional chapters of a new performing arts network will be launched in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg in an attempt to bring together what the organisers describe as “a largely dispersed and powerless community, reeling from one crisis to another.

The mothballing of the State Theatre and the closure of various companies attached to it, retrenchments at the Market Theatre, liquidation of the CTPO, financial crises at the Windybrow Theatre and PACOFS as well as the racism furore at the Playhouse together with “the normal challenges of trying to access sustainable funding, have resulted not only in low morale within the sector, but also a sense that something needs to be done.”

“The latest blow to the performing arts with the decision of the NAC (allegedly on the instructions of the Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology) to withhold R10 million of funding for performing arts companies after they had been encouraged to apply for this funding, again confirms that the arts community cannot simply wait around in the hope that things will improve. “

"It is again necessary for the arts and culture community to take responsibility for their own futures, to mobilise and take collective action in their interests" said Mike van Graan, one of those behind the new initiative.

The aims of the proposed performing arts network are to provide access to the tools required by the performing and creative arts sector to best produce and distribute their work. Also to provide constructive forums to support practitioners and companies in their creative processes and to serve as a united front to lobby government, the NAC, the lottery and other relevant agencies in the collective interests of the performing arts. Another aim is to promote transparency, accountability and sound financial and organisational management within the arts and culture sector.

The proposed performing arts network has received the support of a range of artists and performers including the Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company, Magnet Theatre, the Black Arts Collective (BLAC), Sue Clarence of the Hilton Arts Festival, Cape Town Opera’s Michael Williams, Charles J. Fourie and the Cape Theatre Ensemble, Sibikwa Community Theatre and Lueen Conning-Ndlovu’s New Moon Ventures.

The KZN chapter of the proposed performing arts network will be launched in Durban at the Durban Cultural and Documentation Centre, Derby Rd on June 23 from 09h30 to 12h30.

For more details or to sign up for the network, contact Illa Thompson (031) 261-5518 or pubmat@iafrica.com




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