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NEW BOARD FOR THE PLAYHOUSE (article first published : 2003-01-17)

After having been without a Board for approximately 18 months, the Playhouse Company has a new team in the driving seat. The Minister of Arts, Culture, Science & Technology, Dr Ben Ngubane, has appointed an interim Board which is due to serve until the end of March 2003.

The Board comprises Cllr Rodger Ashe, Dr Bheki Langa, Cllr Mina Lesoma, Mr Modise Moatlhodi, Prof Ugandra Naidoo, Dr Cynthia Thandi Ndlovu, Mr Sydney Selepe, Mr Bongani Tembe, Ms Justice Leona Theron, Rev Dabula Thusi and Mr Themba Wakashe as well as the Minister himself. Also on the board is Mr Rodney Mthethwa who has been acting as interim administrator, a position which will be phased out by March 2003.

Interim Chairperson is Councillor Mina Lesoma, a self-professed “workaholic” and “hands on person” which is evident by the number of organisations which she heads or to which she offers valuable input. At today’s press gathering, she welcomed the Minister’s move and paid tribute to her colleagues on the Board as “distinguished and committed people who are ready to guide this Company into the next phase.” She also acknowledged the work of the Playhouse’s CEO, Professor Caesar Ndlovu.

Having been appointed in September, the Board has only lately been able to meet as a collective body and Councillor Lesoma indicated that they will be requesting an extension of this period so that they “can explore the workings of this company and begin to devise a plan of action.”

“I think KwaZulu-Natal has waited long enough,” she added. “This team is ready for action.”

These sentiments will be heartily endorsed by the theatre practitioners of KZN who have felt in limbo during the past 18 months as the Playhouse has moved from being a production company to simply a hiring outlet. The hiring costs of the various venues – The Opera, The Drama and The Loft – are too expensive for the average theatre group and way beyond the means of community performing arts organisations.

It appears that the Playhouse Company will change its operation structure from being a Section 21 company to that of an arts council reporting directly to the Minister. “This is a good thing,” said Bongani Tembe, “as it will ensure security for the Playhouse in terms of support from DACST (the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology).” The Minister, however, will have no artistic control over the Playhouse’s activities.

Councillor Lesoma added: “The Playhouse Company has a responsibility to the people of KwaZulu Natal to entertain, to inform and to educate and also to grow and stimulate all our different cultural identities through creative expression.”

Paying tribute to the hard working staff of the Playhouse, she went on to identify the company’s two main annual projects - Senzenje (which has its finals on January 25) and the National Women’s Arts Festival and indicated the board’s commitment to expand these events on a much larger scale.

The Board acknowledged that its immediate priority was to put an artistic plan in place that acknowledged excellence and artistic vibrancy and also reached further into the province of KZN.




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