Arts council idea gains momentum

Yoliswa Sobuwa

THE establishment of a Nelson Mandela Bay Arts Council (NMBAC) will help to achieve much-needed recognition for artists from all communities in the city. The idea of an arts council was first launched in September last year at a public meeting at the Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton. Since then a committee has been established, followed by a second public meeting held at the PE Opera House on Friday.

The initial meeting last year was to gauge artists’ buy-in for the purpose of establishing a united body for all spheres of the arts in the city.

Friday’s follow-up meeting was attended by about 20 artists.

The theme for the NMBAC, once fully established, will be Cultural City, Iconic City Nelson Mandela Bay, according to Monde Ngonyama, CEO of the PE Opera House, who facilitated the meetings and has been instrumental in driving the concept of an arts council.

“This [initiative] is coming from a culture of [artists] all doing their own thing. Artists are under the impression things have to stay that way.

“The council is here to raise issues on behalf of artists. It’s not going to be easy. We are also aware artists are sometimes afraid to voice their feelings and can feel suffocated.”

Ngonyama said when it came to musicians the municipality confused its support for events as support for the arts.

“There is no arts policy in the municipality. There should be a municipal arts grant assisting artists. We need programmes that will enhance the brand of artists in this municipality,” he said.

Nobesuthu Rayi, theatre producer of the Opera House, said the NMBAC would help bring bigger acts to the city and enable artists based here to have “one voice”. “For once, decisions will be taken by artists for artists when it comes to organising of events,” Rayi said.

Stage actress Zukiswa Cakucaku said she was excited about the formation of an arts council.

“The council will be our mouthpiece. There are things we’ve wanted to tackle as artists but we were not united,” Cakucaku said.

A conference would follow at a later date at which an arts and culture sector plan would be adopted, Ngonyama said. This would then be proposed to the municipality for it to be accepted as policy.


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