By Ismail Mahomed
Dear valued friend of the Market Theatre Foundation In the wake of the current international COVID-19 Pandemic, and based on our South African government’s recommendations, we would like to inform you of how the Market Theatre Foundation is taking practical and responsible steps to ensure the health and safety of our artists, patrons, partners, staff and visitors to our theatres, galleries and offices in at the Market Theatre complex and Market Square complex in Newtown and at the Windybrow Arts Centre in Hillbrow.
The Market Theatre Foundation is firmly committed to support national and international efforts to combat the Corona Virus. Following President Ramaphosa’s address on Sunday 15 March 2020, the Market Theatre Foundation has postponed all shows and exhibitions at the Market Theatre Foundation.
Patrons who have booked for shows can either claim a refund or request for their tickets to be deferred to when government has announced that it is once again safe for South Africans to end the period of social distancing. We are however firm believers in the theatre adage that the show must go on but the extraordinary circumstances created by the Corona Virus pandemic forces us to re-imagine the ways we can continue to engage our audiences while our theatres remain closed in the interest for the safety of our artists, audiences, employees and various stakeholders.
This is the moment to think of how we can take theatre into the digital space. Along with strategic partners the Market Theatre Foundation will shortly announce plans of how it will use livestreaming to continue to keep its audiences engaged. The Market Theatre Foundation’s website and social media platforms will provide daily updates.
The international tours for the Market Theatre Foundation’s highly successful plays, Hani: The Legacy and The Little Prince which were scheduled to tour to Europe and Asia in May have been cancelled. We are disappointed to cancel these international tours which would have offered the young casts with an incredible experience and a boost for their careers but we are not going to take any chances with compromising their health and safety. We will continue to pursue other opportunities for our youth companies. Message from the Chief Executive Officer of the Market Theatre Foundation to artists, patrons and stakeholders
We have also suspended all contact teaching at the Market Theatre Laboratory and the Market Photo Workshop. Classes for students enrolled at the Market Theatre Laboratory will continue online. The challenges of exposing our students to health risks under the current circumstances in crowded public spaces including taxi ranks and taxis is worrisome. Under the circumstances non-contact classes are in the best interests of our students. Our students will be assisted with being able to download data for their lessons. During the Market Theatre Laboratory’s online teaching programme the Market Theatre Laboratory’s teachers will be engaged to work from home to develop learning materials for the students. In a sector where the sudden cancellation of employment for freelance arts teachers, facilitators and artists has become a major concern because of social distancing we want to ensure that our teachers are not affected by loss of income and that our students are not adversely affected. We are also going to develop similar strategies for students at the Market Photo Workshop. Even under these challenging circumstances our priority is to ensure business continuity, maintain service levels for you and provide care for our artists, audiences, employees and all other stakeholders. We have taken decisions to ensure that our employees are able to operate within the following logistical matrix going forward: • Hand sanitisers have been provided at all entrances and exits to the our venues • We are maintaining a high level of hygiene in all our venues • We have cancelled all domestic and international travel for our staff; and where office and production staff travel to work by taxis they have been supported to work remotely from home equipped with all the necessary IT support to enable continuous documentation and information flow • For essential meetings, we have limited our boardrooms to a capacity of 10 at a time In the weeks ahead, we will continue to monitor and evolve with the responses required for the fight against COVID-19, and in-turn keep you updated about the online programmes that we plan to develop and present. The Market Theatre Foundation is a 42- year old South African institution with more than 300 awards for artistic excellence and 4 awards for human rights and social justice. Our institution has a deep legacy for fighting and supporting South African causes. We will use this opportunity to unite our artists to fight the Corona Virus with one message about health, safety and respect for human lives expressed in many voices through our digital platforms. We remain committed to support our country, our communities and the global community to fight this pandemic. I