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CENTRES NETWORK (article first published : 2003-10-26)

The aim of the Department of Art and Culture’s ambitious Community Arts Centres project is to develop a sustainable policy-driven network of community arts centres throughout the country.

Between 1996 and 2000 the Department of Arts and Culture established 41 community arts centres through its RDP funded Culture in Community programme. Some 14 of these centres are libraries, two are town halls, which were refurbished, one is a travelling theatre and two are museums.

Through a unique partnership project to develop capacity and policy for community arts centres, it is hoped that three chosen community arts centres – in the Free State (Zamdela – Thabong), Kwazulu Natal (Stable-Playhouse-Ntuzuma) and Limpopo (Thohoyandou Centre) – will be developed into well-functioning community centres and as functioning models to be implemented in other provinces.

There are about 25 older community arts centres, like Funda, Community Arts Project, the Afrika Cultural Centre, the BAT Centre and Fuba that were constructed by local art organisations, municipalities or provinces, and in which the national department was not involved.

The RDP centres and the older centres are part of the current DAC Community Arts Centre Programme, which aims at making these centres optimally functional in South African society.

DAC is funding nine provincial projects to the value of R1, 845 million during 2002-04. In some provinces historic centres, RDP centres, provincial departments of Arts and Culture and Higher Educational Institutions, manage these projects collaboratively. The department is also funding programmes in the most needy community arts centres to the amount of R1,067 million for this financial year. The Department plans to increase the funding for community arts centres in the next financial year.

DAC has also entered into a bi-national agreement with the Flemish government for the development of policy and capacity building in the arts centre sector in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Limpopo, to a value of R10 million for 2003-2005.

The Flemish Minister for Culture, Minister P van Grembergen, will visit South Africa from October 28 to 30 to celebrate the substantial contribution that the Flemish Government has made to arts and culture in South Africa, dating back to 1996. This cultural agreement paved the way for bilateral cooperation including vital exchanges in heritage, performing arts and twinning of festivals.

Minister van Grembergen will visit selected sites, including community art centres, during his short visit to South Africa. He will also be meeting his South African counterpart Arts and Culture Minister Ben Ngubane during his visit.




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