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

ARTS ALIVE (article first published : 2003-08-20)

Johannesburg’s Arts Alive International Festival, which takes place in September, aims to reposition the city as the cultural hub of the African continent.

Just as Jo’burg’s inner city has gone through an extensive renewal and rejuvenation process, so has Arts Alive which this year will have a new identity with a new team at the helm. Audiences can expect a festival that is cutting-edge, innovative and professional. It will run over a more intensive period of 10 days from September 17 to 28. The team have already signed four international artists and 28 local performers and have broadened the festival’s scope to incorporate different genres of the arts.

Although music still dominates, the festival will also include poetry and spoken word; film; dance; fashion, painting and photographic exhibitions and various workshops which will be held both in Newtown and Soweto and which will feature the international guests.

Arts Alive kicks off on September 17 with an international Jazz Diva, followed by the hugely popular Jazz on the Lake at Zoo Lake on September 21, which has some of this country’s top performers in action including McCoy Mrubata. Mrubata is one of South Africa's finest saxophonists, versatile on the tenor, soprano and alto saxophones as well as the flute. He has toured the United States, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe and Australia.

The festival organisers hope to attract a wider spectrum of consumers by offering a diverse range of the arts. The plan to focus on the fusion of South African, African and international rhythms across the genres of reggae, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, soul, maskandi, gospel, rock ‘n roll and folk music by using a mix of local and international artists. The big name international artists will either be on their first visit to South Africa or will have recently released something new.

The majority of events will take place in venues in the core Arts Alive village in Newtown drawing people back to the city centre. This will help to dispel negative perceptions about the city centre and will showcase the successful regeneration projects that are under way in Newtown and its surrounds. Events will also be held in satellite venues in the northern and southern suburbs of Johannesburg.

Future plans are to extend the festival in following years with conferences and seminars on African culture and heritage, a trans-African broadcast network and huge outdoor spectaculars never before seen in the history of Arts Alive.

The emphasis this year will also be collaborating with other Johannesburg projects and events taking place during the month of September. The current status of Jo’burg in the leisure market of South Africa is that of a gateway and not a destination. Arts Alive gives the city the opportunity to change this, as September is South Africa’s Tourism Month. Through a celebration of arts and culture, the festival has a vital role to play in reviving the inner city. It also aims to contribute to the economic development of the city.

Visit the Arts Alive website on www.artsalive.co.za




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