01 June, Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay. The redevelopment of the Old Tramways building as a catalytic investment into the Baakens Valley is already starting to bear fruit for Nelson Mandela Bay. In less than a year since the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) moved into the premises, thousands of Bay residents and visitors have flocked to the venue. MBDA Spokesperson Luvuyo Bangazi says “the vision for the Baakens is centered on three pillars which are; to develop the Baakens as People’s Place, a Meeting Place and a Making Place. The Tramways was designed with approximately 1100 square meters of exhibition space to enable us to activate that vision through hosting a variety of unique activities and exhibitions. To us the Tramways is more than just office space, it is a people’s place”.
Some of the events that have graced the Tramways include most recently the “Africa Day” celebration attended by the Executive Mayor, Poetry and book reading by young creatives, Soroptimist International Art exhibition – an NGO that raises funds for various charitable causes, Property development launches, NMMU Vice Chancellor’s dinner, Minister Pravin Gardham’s post budget speech dinner, locally produced movie screenings, the popular Valley Market, South End – Then and Now book launch and many other public meetings just to name a few.
One special event hosted recently was “Project Queen” a Hair and Beauty Expo on the 2nd of May. This event attracted an intimate audience of 60 young creative people that got together to exchange skills, knowledge and best practise on how to take care of their African hair. The event also hosted a number of exhibitors that showcased their products directly targeting African hair. The day’s events included, stalls selling hair and beauty products, Hair care information seminars, Make-up tutorials and makeovers, Fashion showcase and advice, Hair stylist competition and Professional photo shoots.
“All of these events have either served as an opportunity for Nelson Mandela Bay residents and stakeholders to access markets in terms of trading their creative goods, served as a platform for debate and engagement or enhancing the nightlife and events calendar of Nelson Mandela Bay as a must visit creative and fun destination” concluded Bangazi.
According to SAhistory.org The Port Elizabeth Tramway Company was established in 1878 although the first horse- drawn trams only began operating in May 1881. The tramways closed down in the late 1940s. Redeveloped at an estimated R40m the Tramways was destined to enhance the tourism and events product mix of the City but also begin the process of rehabilitation and rejuvenation of the Baakens area, the green lung of our City.
Activities to look out for in June:
1. Tramways Memory project – Open Exhibition
From time to time the MBDA applies to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) to access funding for special programmes through the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP). This Tramways Memory project stems from that incentive grant the Agency received in 2015 with the specific purpose of exploring Job Creation in Visual Arts around the Bay.
MBDA Job Creation and Visual Arts project leader Oyama Vanto explains the programme “The agency identified ten groups of artists groups in the City as part of the EPWP programme. This specific project was then allocated to two locally based female artists, Nompumezo Gubevu and Lorinda Coombs, again enhancing cultural integration and collaboration. The MBDA provided the artists with space and support at the MBDA managed Athenaeum building, enabling them to create the masterpiece that is now being exhibited”.
Through this project the MBDA has been able create opportunities for local artists to engage in Urban Renewal spaces, creating much needed work opportunities for local artists and leveraging the Athenaeum as a creative hub and a space for all artists of the City.
Interested members of the public and media are welcome to visit the Tramways to see this amazing piece of art. The exhibition is free and open to all between 8am and 5pm daily.
2. Campanile’s 23 restored bells– coming soon to the Tramways
Since being lowered on the 26th of April, the Campanile’s 23 bells have been undergoing much needed restoration and maintenance. The 23 structure which are about 1.5m in diameter each will soon be brought to the Tramways for public viewing before being taken across and installed at the Campanile. More information will be published soon.
3. Valley Market – Saturday 4th June, 9am
The Valley Market is an Artisan Food Fair supplied by local exhibitors made available to the Nelson Mandela Bay community with the utmost quality creativity in mind. The market happened every first Saturday of every month.
4. Malstone’s Fashion Show – 4th June, 6pm
Asanda Mali is a local designer based in Motherwell. Marlstone’s is her brand of clothing which has proved to be a hit with national celebrities and TV stars.
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