In culmination of years of planning and a dogged commitment to the re-development of Nelson Mandela Bay’s central business district (CBD), the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) are pulling out all the stops to host a major community event in Central in celebration of the area’s heritage. The event will also inform the public about the future plans for the neighbourhood.
“The Bird Street Bash is the first event of its kind and aims to bring together the entire Central community – both residential and business – to celebrate the suburb, the heart of heritage, and to engage the community on the infrastructural and other upgrades planned for the inner city,” said Dorelle Sapere, MBDA Planning and Development Manager.
“Central is the creative, Afro-cosmopolitan, heritage centre of our city – and our planning is based on the premise that it will soon also be the tourism, leisure and entertainment heart. The Bird Street Bash is somewhat a precursor to this vision.”
The MBDA has recently completed the upgrade of the Donkin Reserve, and Parliament, Govan Mbeki and Strand Streets and now turns its attention to the Bird Street and Belmont Terrace precincts which will undergo a total transformation.
The agency said the precinct upgrade was part of its phased approach to turning the inner city around and creating “activity space” that has emotional meaning for the city’s residents.
“The incredible outcome of the revitalization is spinoffs in the private sector. Innovators in the city have latched on to the infrastructural upgrades and public art programmes and manifested their own expressions of change – the exact outcome wanted by the MBDA,” added Sapere.
Prime examples of this are the Grand Hotel, Port Elizabeth St Georges Club and Donkin Row houses upgrades; but also less tangible outcomes, such as the growth of inner city youth projects, new coffee shops and venues and an ever-expanding arts scene.
The Agency said the Bird Street Bash community event will leverage the excitement for change and will: engage the entire community, celebrate heritage through the identification of physical and geographical elements of the area and introduce the proposed upgrade to Bird Street. Detailed focus would be on Trinder Square and its conversion to a communal area for all.
The line-up for the event is impressive, with legendary playwright, actor and Port Elizabeth performing arts stalwart Dr Winston Ntshona set to take the stage as keynote speaker at 2pm. Ntshona wrote the 1973 play, The Island with theatre icon, Athol Fugard and John Kani, colleague in the Serpent Players actor ensemble, in which he and Kani starred. Ntshona and Kani were co-winners of the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for their performance in both The Island and Sizwe Banzi is Dead, which he also co-wrote.
An eclectic mix of Nelson Mandela Bay bands will entertain the masses, and include VuDu Jazz Band, The Brothers and a marimba band. Central underground hip hop guru and radio personality Viv Bozak will host as master of ceremonies. Other family entertainment includes clowns, face-painting, buskers, jumping castles, a massive blow up soccer field, food and artisan stalls, and an exhibition of artworks and the plans for the precinct. Giveaways and prizes will also be handed out, including free popcorn and juice.
Central residents are encouraged to attend the event to provide the MBDA with their contact details so it can communicate critical information about the upgrade to them directly and also receive feedback from inhabitants.
Those attending the event can also leave their mark on Trinder Square by contributing ceramic, pottery or tile pieces – ideally with a piece of personal history attached to them – for the mosaic cladding of benches planned for the park.
The event is presented by the MBDA in collaboration with a creative team made up of Adendorf Architects, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, ADA Urban Design, Numb City Productions, the Arts Journey, ArtEC, the Athenaeum and The Trinity Session.
“This area is bursting at the seams with history and is filled with iconic heritage buildings. The upgrade is not only about preserving history. It is as much about enjoying the present and creating a great place for the future. As the area links to the Donkin Reserve and Art-Route 67, arts and culture take centre-stage. Already a wide range of artists live, work or display in the area. After the upgrade, an artistic and cultural vibe will set the tone, so come shake your tail feathers and flock together at this unique community event,” quipped Sapere.
The Bird Street Bash takes place on Saturday, September 29 at Trinder Square between Bird Street and Western Road in Central. It is a free community event. Gates open at 10am.