The Homecoming Centre, a cultural hub which incorporates the old Fugard Theatre and the District Six Homecoming Centre was relaunched on Wednesday June 1 with the opening of an exhibition called Salon Afrique – a Homecoming Re-imagined.
The iconic Fugard Theatre closed its doors in March 2021 after it was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and was handed back to the District Six Museum Trust.
It has now been refurbished by developers Neighbourgood, and the museum has ensured that the building is filled with tenants, events and productions.
Speaking at the event, District Six Museum’s a acting director Chrischene Julius said after the building was handed back to the museum in 2020, they needed to look at being more sustainable and re-imagined a space where the idea for the cultural hub was born.
“We wanted a space to reflect what District Six was… we want people to come here and be welcomed. We want people to enjoy and explore this space.”
In the lobby of the theatre, Societi Cafe was brought in as a tenant to provide food and snacks. The space was also revamped and opened up to create informal seating areas. The cafe will cater for all events in the precinct.
The spaces inside the Homecoming Centre have been rebranded, using names reminiscent of District Six. The theatres will be called the Star Theatre and the Avalon Auditorium, after the bioscopes of District Six.
The studio and gallery spaces will be called Bits and Pieces, after a klopse group from District Six, also known as the Odds and Ends.
The hall which was previously known as the Homecoming Centre has been renamed Tafel – named after the phrase “gooi ‘n tafel”, referring to the tables that were laid out by families for celebratory occasions, symbolic of coming together and sharing.
The new exhibition was launched in the Tafel hall, and occupied the other floors in the new Homecoming Centre, while showing off the renovations and spaces.
Salon Afrique, incorporating the work of many artists in all forms, explores themes of visibility, a safe passage and creating a homecoming away from home that welcomes diverse identities from across Africa.
Speaking of the exhibition, Sea Point resident Beathur Mgoza Baker who co-curated Salon Afrique said the exhibition explored ideas around homecoming and identity, making the Homecoming Centre a perfect fit for its launch, and connecting the exhibition to District Six. “We are looking forward to keeping the spirit of District Six alive.”
Co-curator Sara Bint Moneer Khan, from Gardens, said the word “Salon” was used as they were looking at the idea of community salons in which artists got together for years to share stories and ideas, and they wanted to recreate that space with the exhibition.
The exhibition is open at the Homecoming Centre until Saturday July 9.