FAME and notoriety, it might be argued, are not reserved exclusively for the living!
Creative artists, it would appear, are mostly remembered after they have travelled to the big gallery in the bright blue yonder.
Gushing words in obituary columns of news publications and the electronic media recall their successes and occasional failures. Statements gleaned from an inner circle of close confidantes, who possibly may or may not have “known them intimately”, frequently contain flattering expressions that extol the deceased’s exceptional talent and genius with copious references and laments about how she, or he, will be sorely missed.
It is of course a good talking point during morning coffee or at the hairdressing salon!
But dare we pause for a moment to deliberate how much more it would have meant had the same accolades been addressed to the sadly departed while still alive? That really is the point isn’t it?
This is the reason why we should applaud the recent press announcement in your publication that the NMB Municipality has recognised a long overdue need to create an arts council – a much belated recognition of the remarkable artistic talent that lives and works within the Bay catchment area.
Playwrights, actors, poets, potters, painters, musicians and film-makers, the list is endless.
In passing it should also be mentioned that there have been previous attempts to launch similar projects such as that championed by former mayor Zanoxolo Wayile, whose vision for unity in the creative arts sector led to the formation of an NMB mayoral film and music committee. Somewhat sadly it was to disintegrate primarily because of its inability to combat negative attitudes and disinterest among those from whom it sought assistance.
The creative industry is after all much like big business and politics, prospering on entrepreneurial leadership, long term support, business expertise and insight.
Many outside its protective sanctuary fail to understand the rationale of a few enlightened others whose total commitment is to their art and not necessarily for financial gain.
I am hopeful therefore that the driving force behind this latest foray into the developing of the region’s bottomless pool of multi-talented artists succeeds and that those at the helm, during moments of doubt or despair, recall the much quoted idiom that simply states “if you can think it, you can do it”.
Break a leg guys!
Neil Hetherington, producer/director, Filmman, Port Elizabeth