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DURBAN CELEBRATED! (article first published : 2004-10-1)

The sixth Standard Bank Awesome Africa Music Festival was held for the second time in Durban’s Albert Park last weekend as the flagship event of the city’s Celebrate Durban season and despite the inclement weather - which included torrential rain and 40 knot winds - has been applauded by organisers, the public and the community alike as being a great success. The event was 100% incident free with some 10,000 music lovers enjoying a feast of international and South African music in absolute safety in the beautiful park setting, over the weekend.

The busy Albert Park district also played host to the colourful Float Parade which saw 12 imaginatively-decorated floats led by key municipal vehicles including shiny fire engines. The Flavours of Durban exhibition was hosted under the trees at Albert Park adding exotic aromas to the Albert Park ambiance.

St Andrews Street also enjoyed a two day al-fresco musical feast courtesy of the Cell C Durban Music School which used the Celebrate Durban platform to showcase some of the wonderful youthful musicians attached to the city’s foremost music institution.

“The festivities celebrate the increasing street friendliness of Albert Park.” says Werner Dannewitz, director of the DMS. “This, together with the Awesome Africa Music Festival and Flavours of Durban food festival in the precinct, demonstrates the city’s serious intention to continue their focus on upgrading the area.”

“This is a tangible example of how the corporate world and the arts can work together with municipalities and governmental organizations to provide the support needed to alter the lives of people. In this case, Cell C have been instrumental in sponsoring the DMS so that children from previously disadvantaged backgrounds will have an opportunity to learn music, and by further assisting with the festival we have been able to be a part of the City’s drive to take back the streets of Durban in an endeavour to upgrade the Albert Park area,” says Tatlaat Laham, CEO of Cell C.

"Despite the weather, we are thrilled that the Albert Park Celebrate Durban weekend was such a phenomenal success," says Awesome Africa’s Prof Pitika Ntuli. "We feel that we have a unique template and platform which we can develop which includes great international and local music, urban regeneration programmes and job creation and tourist potential. We would like to publicly acknowledge our sponsors and partners – in particular Standard Bank, the City of Durban, KZN Tourism and iTrump – for their vision, support and commitment in making this wonderful festival happen,"

"Many people were sceptical about us moving into Albert Park, but we knew that Durban's spirit is unique. We are setting an example here for the rest of Africa" says co-ordinator Thalia Erwin.

"The festival saw some interesting music taking place as well as some profound and culturally astonishing music genres being showcased. Once again, audiences had the rare opportunity of seeing one of the largest contingent of international and Pan African performers assembled together in South Africa," says Awesome Africa's Dan Chiorboli.

250 artists from 18 countries congregated in Durban for the three-day festival. Many of the artists ran workshops and master-classes prior to the Albert Park event to share their skills and experiences with locals.

"It is felt that the concept of Celebrate Durban has matured and come together and shown its full potential. It started as an idea to bring the people of Durban together and this year it really achieved this. The event was characterised by an enormous sense of ‘Goodwill’ - among the Awesome team, the community, the officials and the audience. It was also an incredibly moving experience. It was great to enjoy music and company together," said the city’s Eric Apelgren.

“From a policing point of view – the festival was totally incident free and the crowd behaviour was excellent. The success was about co-ordinated teamwork and thorough forward planning. The inclusion of the SANDF: Umgeni Commando; the Metro Police; independent security personnel and community liaison all contributed to there being no incidents, says city logistics co-ordinator, Ginny Eslick.

"The Standard Bank Group is proud of its Public/Private Partnership with the eThekwini Municipality. Our sponsorship of the Celebrate Durban and Awesome Africa Festivals is part of a broader commitment towards the economic and social development of the city and province. The success of these festivals is an unequivocal demonstration of the possibilities that exist through effective PPPs. Congratulations to the eThekwini Municipality and the organisers of the festivals for the vision in embarking on this daunting project," says Mr Thomas Naidoo, Provincial Director, Standard Bank Group KZN.

"The festival has the potential to be one of the most significant events on the KZN calendar and it can go a long way to really putting Durban on the international musical map," said UniCity Manager, Dr Michael Sutcliffe. “Albert Park is undoubtedly the most appropriate venue for this festival – welcoming the public into the spacious Albert Park goes a long way to reclaiming the park.“




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