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POWER HOUSE PRESENCE (article first published : 2004-01-16)

The return of Linda Bukhosini to Durban’s Playhouse as its newly appointed Artistic Director might well be seen as the light at the end of a tunnel in the saga of the decline of what was once the cultural nerve centre of our city. A powerhouse presence in the arts community, Bukhosini is widely recognized as a “heavy duty” arts administrator as well as being an internationally recognized stage practitioner.

Her appointment was made solely on merit, the appointment process fully transparent, as has been confirmed by the Playhouse Company’s council headed by Cllr Mina Lesoma. Claims of nepotism and corruption could not be more misplaced, as Bukhosini’s partner, Bongani Tembe, a member of the Playhouse Council, recused himself fully from the appointment from first to last.

Linda Bukhosinii is perfectly capable of holding her own in any arts environment in the world, without having to resort of leaning on anyone. Her portfolio includes qualifications from New York’s Juilliard School in the fields of performance and arts administration. Married to these qualifications is a proven track record of achievements in a broad ranging professional field.

Through association, her stature as a performing artist of high standing can only be seen as a major plus factor in redressing the listless perceptions many people have of the Playhouse these days.

Despite the recent media mud-slinging that followed communication breakdowns between the Playhouse and the press last month, Bukhosini’s appointment is increasingly being tipped by observers, both within the company and from the outside, as a decidedly positive move. Especially so in the light of what many see as professional and artistic inertia in key areas of senior management during the past two or more years.

Clearly Bukhosini is here to stay. She produced a draft proposal of her holistic plans for the company’s arts and education and development programmes within days of her appointment. This document is to be submitted to the Playhouse Company’s Executive Committee this week, and then to be ratified by the full Council before being publicly released at the end of the month.

Bukhosini’s directorate will embrace the installation and running of a fully balanced artistic programme for the company, aimed at bringing the theatre complex back to life as a cultural centre of excellence. Her aspirations include: opening up dialogue within the arts community of this city to embrace all artists; creating a comprehensive programme of artistic cultures ranging from iscathamyia and maskanda to opera and ballet; and elevating indigenous art forms to a standard of international excellence, while ensuring the company fulfills its government brief of staging its own productions with integrity and with full artistic commitment.

While the orchestrated action outside the Playhouse in response to her appointment runs its course of daily lunch hour pickets, we need to look beyond the sorry spectacle and face some facts. It is a fact of life that talent hackers operate all over the world. That job insecurities spring from an environment of miscommunication and of non-delivery. That the performing arts the world over revolve around the star system.

As an arts administrator – as well as a star performer - Linda Bukhosini deserves the support of all who would love to see the Grand Old Lady of the Playhouse come back to life, not only as the home of outside productions such as the recent smash hit, Umoja, but of a year-round spectacle of artistic prowess that embraces all cultures.

All strength to her arm. - William Charlton-Perkins




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