Performance Art Indaba.

Posted: March 10, 2009 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews

 Second leg of National Theatre and Dance Indaba

By Astrid Stark

The second provincial Theatre and Dance Indaba saw performance artists and stakeholders converge on the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town on 7 and 8 February.

Actress Thoko Ntshinga opened the floor by urging South African artists to adopt a unified approach, in order to address fragmentation within the sector.   She stressed the importance of discipline and the development of artists’ business skills.

The indabas are a part of the national consultative process on theatre and dance in South Africa.  The first indaba took place in Gauteng last year.

During the indaba, various speakers addressed challenges facing the sector such as; transformation, networking, compliance, training, local market development and funding sustainability

Theatre stalwart, Fatima Dike, selected as one of the Western Cape task team members, spoke passionately about her experiences during the period of Protest Theatre.

Dike said Protest Theatre put South Africa on the world map and there will never again be a force of its kind in our country. “Nowadays people say Protest Theatre is dead.  I say no, Protest Theatre is not dead. We have died.” Dike lamented.

She elaborated that we now have a black government in place and that somehow we have lost our voice of protest. Dike said that we are handing over our rights to the people in power.  “We have forgotten that we have put them into power. Where is our voice of protest?” 

Each province’s task team members are elected to formulate and make recommendations at the national conference, which will inform future government policy on the arts.

On Sunday the 8th, MEC for Western Cape Education, Cameron Dugmore, said although his department wholly supports artists, they must remember that the overwhelming problem is poverty and unemployment.  He suggested that in growing the arts we should look at developing a ‘creative economy’, which will focus on skills development and sustainability.  Dugmore said the final draft of the draft funding policy for Culture and Sports is expected to be ready by end February and they hope to declare the amended policy on 1 April.  Dugmore’s comment that they are looking at 3 year funding for successful applications was met by a mixed response from the excitable audience.

Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA) spokesperson, Erica Glyn – Jones, urged performers to join organizations like PANSA. She also spoke of PANSA’s new Brain Bank idea that allows registered performers to swop their talents.  It is a talent exchange program using skills instead of money to trade services and goods online. 

Patrick Shai spoke on behalf of the National Arts Council (NAC) about compliance in funding.  Shai said the NAC is looking at developing art festivals into a more representative format. “How are festivals like the Grahamstown National Arts Festival helping artists on a Provincial level?” asks Shai.  Questions from the audience raised concerns around complex application forms and the transparency of the funding process.

Bridget van Oerle closed the speakers’ table by highlighting the importance of collaborating with the media in getting your work or name out to the public.  Van Oerle passed on handy tips how performers should approach the media and the various platforms available to artists.

The indaba is the enterprise of the Southern African Theatre Initiative (SATI), and it is supported by the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), National Arts Council (NAC) and Business Arts South Africa (BASA).

Mpho Molepo, SATI executive secretary, reflected that she was pleased with the success of the second provincial indaba. “It is clear that arts representatives are realising they have to take up the cudgels and push for change and progress – it is not going to happen by itself.”

The next provincial Theatre and Dance Indaba will take place in the Free State, at a venue in Bloemfontein on 21 and 22 February.




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