Skills transfer and capacity building of Eastern Cape artists is at the heart of a new partnership between the National Arts Festival, the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts Culture Council (ECPACC) and the Port Elizabeth Opera House.
The Port Elizabeth Opera House is one of the oldest theatre buildings in South Africa. The partnership will focus on highlighting this historical site to visiting producers and presenters who visit the National Arts Festival with a view towards increasing the profile of the theatre amongst the arts community and also amongst theatre enthusiasts.
A series of professional workshops in arts management, marketing and technical production leading up to the Festival will enlist professionals from across the country to work alongside the management of the Port Elizabeth Opera House, to enable the theatre to find its place alongside other leading arts institutions.
The ‘Creative Consultants Project’ will identify six innovative directors to offer artistic feedback to the Port Elizabeth Opera House’s six productions that will be staged at the Festival.
Seven additional Eastern Cape productions will receive added support through a special programme devised jointly between the ECPACC, Port Elizabeth Opera House and the National Arts Festival. Fourteen community-based artists selected from across the Eastern Cape will be supported by the Port Elizabeth Opera House and the ECPACC to participate in the Festival’s Remix Laboratory.
Established in 2009, the Festival’s Remix Laboratory is a highly structured and focused programme that gives community-based artists the opportunity to enjoy a productive Festival and to be exposed to how professional writers, directors, stage management and arts administrators work behind the scenes.
This new partnership comes as a result of three months of roundtable meetings between Ismail Mahomed (Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival), Mondle Ngonyama (General Manager of the Port Elizabeth Opera House) and Raymond Mehlala (CEO of the ECPACC).
“Following our recent partnership with the Mandela Bay Development Agency, this new partnership with the Port Elizabeth Opera House and the ECPACC is another important step towards building capacity in the province. The Eastern Cape has a rich history of producing cultural icons such as John Kani, Winston Ntshona, Andrew Buckland, Athol Fugard, Nomhle Nkonyeni and Elizabeth Connell. We need to ensure that agencies in this province work together so that collectively this province can continue to unearth new generations of cultural achievers” said Mahomed.
CEO of ECPACC, Raymond Mehlala acknowledged that the partnership will contribute significantly towards growing the arts economy of the province. General Manager of the Port Elizabeth Opera House, Monde Ngonyama, is equally ecstatic. He feels that this partnership will give momentum to the Port Elizabeth Opera House’s plans to move towards getting support for the theatre from the government, in terms of the Cultural Institutions Act.
The 39th edition of the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown will take place from 27 June to 7 July 2013.
About the National Arts Festival: The National Arts Festival, now in its 39th year, has proved its sustainability and has grown to be one of the leading arts festivals in Southern Africa. Its objectives are to deliver excellence; encourage innovation and development in the arts by providing a platform for both established and emerging South African artists; create opportunities for collaboration with international artists; and build new audiences.