Artscape launches new development programme

Artscape Resource Centre manager Phodiso Matloga; Cultural Affairs MEC Anroux Marais; 14-year-old artist Litha Mayiya; Artscape CEO Marlene le Roux; City of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille; artist Nompumelelo Rakabe and director of Artscapes Inclusive Arts Unit Thoko, Ntshinga, at the launch of the Emerging Visual Artist Development Programme.

The Artscape Theatre in collaboration with the City of Cape Town launched the Emerging Visual Artists Development Programme at a ceremony at the theatre’s foyer on Monday, September 18.

The programme was set up to create resident space for emerging artists to exhibit their work. This will be linked to a programme that will provide training and development to visual artists to provide sustainability for this art genre.

Work from six emerging artists at the Artscape Resource Centre were exhibited at the opening over the weekend, and yesterday for the official launch.

Artscape CEO Marlene le Roux, said there were not many opportunities for emerging visual artists to exhibit, so the Artscape wanted to provide them with a space for artists to get exposure.

This is a programme hosted by Artscape through the mayor’s office.

While the plans are still in discussion phases, Ms Le Roux said the idea was to have 20 artists showcase their work at the Artscape Marble Foyer on a quarterly basis.

“The idea is to have a panel of visual artist experts approved by the mayor’s office and then have an application process, and select 20 artists. The artists will then be trained at the Resource Centre, and the panel will act as mentors.

“They will also be trained in arts administration and development, and how to sustain themselves as artists. This is the first time the Artscape will be training visual artists and to promote their work, so this is a brand-new concept.”

She said the Artscape was upgrading all the foyers, and would create two more exhibition spaces, possibly for this programme.

At the launch event earlier this week, Mayor Patricia de Lille said the launch of the visual arts programme was a celebration of arts and talent in the city. “Cape Town is blessed with many gifted artists who continually make us proud of their abilities and achievements, not only here in the city but in other parts of the country and on the world stages.

“I have for a couple of years seen numerous galleries and art studios open up in our city where well-known artists show and sell their work. We really appreciate and realise the significance of these established artists, their contribution to our economy, and how they work to showcase the beauty of this wonderful city in their work.

“However, I felt it was important for us as the City to provide a space where young and emerging artists can showcase their own work.”

She said for the majority of these artists, making a living from their work was a challenge because it was expensive to buy material, find space to display and establish the proper networks to sell their work. Many also came from disadvantaged communities where, under apartheid, there was little to no investment in infrastructure that could support their artistic trade.

“We want to offer a platform as a stepping stone for their careers and expose their work to people who would normally not come across their craft.”

She said the launch of the programme came at the same time that the world was here to see the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art, so the City and the Artscape wanted to make sure that these upcoming artists were not excluded from the exposure while the world’s focus is on the Cape Town art scene.

Ms De Lille said the 20 artists who will be trained at the Artscape Resource Centre would have the opportunity to promote their work next month as she activates space at Greenmarket Square as part of the Mayor’s First Thursdays.

Additional reporting by Tamlynne Thompson.