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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

CULTURAL PROGRAMME (article first published : 2001-08-31)

A wide-ranging cultural programme has been set in place for the World Conference against Racism (WCAR). The conference is a first for the African continent and discussions will centre on various factors that give rise to racism, an issue closely linked to cultural ignorance. In cognisance of this fact, government at national level has approved an amount of R4,150,000 towards providing a suitable cultural backdrop to the conference.

The moment delegates set foot on South African soil; they will be immersed in South African culture. At the Johannesburg International Airport, the international and domestic arrival halls are being decorated with examples of local arts and crafts. At the Durban International Airport, a series of spectacular free-standing murals have been erected. These works of art represent the Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Ndebele, Indian, !Xu and Khwe cultures.

For the duration of the conference, musicians and actors from across South Africa and the continent will participate in live entertainment and theatre performances in Durban. At the official opening ceremony in the International Convention Centre on August 31, the focus will be on dance. Ballet Theatre Afrikan, under the artistic direction of Martin Schönberg, will use various dance forms to create a fusion of indigenous, traditional and contemporary dances.

The ICC will resound with jazz on September 7 when the Centre for Jazz & Popular Music, directed by Darius Brubeck, will perform indigenous, traditional and modern music to celebrate the closing of the Conference.

An important cultural event during the Conference will be the international concert on September 1 at the ABSA Stadium which will be open to the public.

Between September 2 and 5, some of the large Durban hotels will be the venue for busking at set times during the day. A number of cultural groups from KZN will treat hotel guests to this form of live entertainment. On September 2, 600 delegates will be taken on a tour in and around Durban, providing an opportunity to city leaders to market South Africa and create exposure for communities active in the field of tourism.

There will also be a Film and Theatre Festival running until September 6 and various exhibitions to enhance the Cultural Programme. The Theatre Festival includes three plays to be performed at the Playhouse, BAT Centre and Kwasuka Theatres and the Film Festival venues include the Playhouse, KwaMuhle Museum, Ster-Kinekor Theatre (Workshop) and the Avalon Theatre in the Berea Shopping Centre. Although some international films will be screened, the focus will be on locally-produced films, adding value to the African experience of delegates to the Conference.

The Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST) supports exhibitions at the Durban Art Gallery and the KwaMuhle Museum as part of the cultural programme. Arts and culture Minister Dr Ben Ngubane officially opened the exhibition Apartheid Architecture, Urban Design and Spatial Policy at KwaMuhle Museum. This exhibition examines the use of architecture, urban design and spatial policy in the implementation of apartheid. The exhibition draws on Foucault's writings and elaborations on Bentham's Panopticon as a model for the organization of the Apartheid City.

The Arts Against Apartheid exhibition, which was previously only seen in Parliament in Cape Town, is on show in the Durban Art Gallery and other exhibitions will be on show in the Old Court House Museum.




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