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Artscape launches an arts development plan for the Western Cape

Published: 23 January 2013

Artscape, the leading performing arts company in the Western Cape, is to launch a brand new programme to promote access to the arts in the province. The programme slots in with the institution’s vision to develop into one of the largest precincts in Africa dedicated to the performing arts.

Marlene le Roux, head of Artscape’s Audience Development and Education Department, will outline details of its Education, Skills and Youth Development Programme on Wednesday, 6 February at the Artscape Theatre Centre in Cape Town.

Michael Maas, chief executive of Artscape, says the cultural institution aims to serve as "one of the most productive performing arts complexes in the country".

“In recent years we have successfully established an innovative education and training programme offering career opportunities for aspirant young performers and theatre technicians in South Africa,” he says.

Le Roux says that Artscape continuously endeavours to initiate innovative programmes in arts education and development which will create positive changes in the realisation of a rich arts and culture community. “We focus on the development and education of youth in theatre by offering educational programmes in urban, peri-urban and rural communities. In so doing, we are also growing new audiences for the arts industry. Artscape forges relationships nationally and internationally to ensure our audiences and beneficiaries achieve a culturally diverse education in the arts. Each year we stage a theatre production in a rural community to ensure maximum reach to all communities.”

The 2013 Education, Skills and Youth Development Programme includes a diverse range of theatre and music programmes for the young as well as festivals aimed at empowering communities.

The youth focus includes stage performances of Grade 12 set workbooks in all three official languages of the Western Cape – English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

“This enables Grade 12 learners to achieve a greater understanding of the set works by bringing characters, dialogue and interpretation of story lines to life,” says Le Roux.

This year’s set works are Nothing but the Truth (English), Vers en Kabaret (Afrikaans) and Amaza (isiXhosa).

The theme of the 7th annual Women’s/Humanity Festival is ‘Against All Odds/Noba kumnyama entla/Teen Alle Waarskynlikheid’.

From Sunday, 4 to Saturday, 10 August, drama groups and artists from diverse communities will converge at Artscape to celebrate National Women’s Day by honouring men and women who have achieved their goals despite numerous challenges and obstacles.

This year’s festival will include shows from the 2012 Paralympics London Celebrations, which coincided with the World Disability Festival.

The annual High School Drama Festival in August offers learners the opportunity to create and present an original drama on a professional stage. This year’s theme is a refrain of the Women’s/Humanity Festival theme of ‘Against All Odds’.

“The event affords learners a platform to express real life situations through the medium of theatre, helping them to broaden their horizons and exposing them to the rich diversity of cultures in the Western Cape,” says Le Roux. "The project encourages nation building as young people and their parents from different backgrounds come together to share a common goal.”

In addition, the Shakespeare Schools Festival, from Monday, 29 July to Thursday, 1 August, creates another opportunity for learners to develop a love for theatre.

Initiated in 2003 to encourage and develop young aspirant jazz musicians, the annual Artscape Youth Jazz Festival culminates this year with a special performance on Friday, 14 June at the Theatre.

Another August highlight is the 42nd Western Cape Youth Classical Music Festival where young singers and solo instrumentalists are offered the opportunity of performing with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra.

South Africa’s cultural diversity is celebrated at the Heritage Festival from Monday, 16 to Saturday, 28 September which includes a performance by jazz musician Melanie Scholtz, performing music from her album, Freedom’s Child, which includes lyrics by Cape Town’s iconic poet James Matthews.

“The Artscape Resource Centre also serves as a lighthouse for arts practitioners to network with one another. It also provides a wide range of information and reference material to emerging arts communities locally and nationally,” says Le Roux.

Throughout the year, the Resource Centre runs workshops that provide additional skills to arts practitioners. These include networking sessions, funding proposal workshops and arts marketing workshops.

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