Home News Minister Mthethwa officially opens, hands over Northern Cape Theatre

Minister Mthethwa officially opens, hands over Northern Cape Theatre

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Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa officially handed over the Northern Cape Theatre to the mayor of Sol Plaatje Municipality, Kagisho Sonyoni, and the MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture, Desery Fienies. Picture: Danie van der Lith

The Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, officially opened and handed over the Northern Cape Theatre.

THE NORTHERN Cape Theatre should polish the creative talent in the Province and place it on a pedestal for the world to see.

These were the encouraging words from the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, to local artists during the official opening and handover of the Northern Cape Theatre in Kimberley on Wednesday.

Mthethwa said that although the Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in a halt on cultural activities and gatherings, the handover is a sign that things are about to change.

“This handover is intended to offer a glimmer of hope in these challenging times and provides the faith that the tide is turning and better times are on the horizon,” the minister said.

He added that his department has also ensured that artists receive assistance in enhancing their craft.

“My department is also committed to the initial investment of R1.5 million towards the Incubator and Skills Development Programme. This initiative will involve skills in areas of theatre, dance, music, marketing and administration.

“I am encouraged by all the practitioners that have robustly stood firm to ensure that the arts and culture sector in the Province does not remain behind but takes its rightful place in contributing to the economic recovery of the country.

“I am also encouraged to see that our practitioners are eager to continue with their creativity and revive our cultural activities, which had to lay dormant due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This momentum needs to be sustained. We cannot afford to go back to stricter levels.”

Mthethwa noted that the theatre will also enable creatives to practise their craft on “home soil”.

“The youth in the Northern Cape do not have to travel to Gauteng, the Western Cape or the Free State to have access to facilities where they can enhance their creative skills. We create spaces for our young ones as well as our elderly, because creative work does not have an age limit.

“We have come a long way as the theatre landscape, pre-liberation, was characterised by the exclusion of our country’s indigenous people and historically oppressed from the mainstream venues. Instead, they were forced to operate in church halls, hostels and backyards. Groups such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo did not have the luxury of having access to such spaces, but they made it to the top. They had to practise in beer halls or small classrooms. Despite the challenges, they remained true to their craft and themselves.

“The creatives in this Province now have no excuse that they cannot practise their craft. It gives me immense pleasure that the singing and chanting of artists will reverberate in an appropriate space intended for performance.”

The minister urged young artists to remain true to their identity and art form, but to also see their craft as means of generating a living.

“We see many youngsters trying to mimic artists from abroad. We have our own art forms. We are a South Africa which is a product of the struggle for liberation. That should be reflected in all our art forms. People should understand us through our own culture and we need to share with the world who we are.

“Since the advent of democracy, it has been the department’s preoccupation to transform this arts, culture and heritage landscape into one that is socially cohesive and for the benefit of all people. This is to afford everyone the right to free expression and learning.

“Performance meant for leisure and enjoyment by audiences while at the same time generating income to those practitioners who make a living from such enjoyment. Our goal is that creatives should earn a living through their crafts.”

Mthethwa also advised creatives to not only focus on enhancing their creative skills but to also focus on handling the business side of their craft.

“We have the Silapha (We are Here for You) Programme, which assists artists and athletes in different aspects of their career. Some artists enter into contracts that kill them. This programme is aimed at assisting them to understand those contracts. The programme also addresses issues of mental wellness as some artists and athletes are suicidal. When that happens, those artists and athletes need to be assisted in order to do away with such incidents. We do this because we care for our artists and athletes.

“We wonder why some artists die as paupers after some of them have been ‘making it’ while they were alive. When they die, people ask what the government is doing. This programme assists artists and athletes to be responsible with their finances and we want to remind artists as well as athletes that, as a department, we are here for them.”

Mthethwa added that the opening and handover of the theatre also aims to address a number of social challenges in the community. He urged artists and attendees to take the lead in rooting out challenges such as gender-based violence.

“The department has the Golikane (It is Enough) Programme, where we want to have conversations with men and young boys about the role they play in the abuse of women. Women do not rape themselves, they are raped by men. The manner in which men are supposed to treat and respect women starts at the grassroots level, which is inside our homes.

“We have a boy-child who wakes up and does not make his bed. They then continue to eat without washing their utensils. Then we have the girl-child who has to wake up and make the beds then wash the utensils of their brother. The brother is playing outside while the mother is cooking with the girl-child at her side. The girl-child then becomes the deputy cook. Who says a boy cannot cook or wash utensils? We need to address these issues at home because it starts with the chores at home. Gone are the days that we as parents create this dichotomy between our children.”

The inside of the Northern Cape Theatre. Pictures: Danie van der Lith
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