Sibikwa in uproar with Ekhuruleni Metro over lack of funding support

By Edward Tsumele

A confrontation is looming between the award winning arts centre Sibikwa in Ekurhuleni and the City of Ekurhuleni over funding issues.

At the centre of this looming confrontation, that will see this 33 year old shining arts jewel in Benoni deliver a petition with the signatures of management, staff and the community to the Executive Mayor Mzwandile Masina  and  senior arts executives within the metro, on April 28, 2021 is over perceived neglect when it comes to funding Sibikwa, which over the years has delivered quality training to especially young artists living in Ekurhuleni and beyond.

Sibikwa provides training in especially theatre and other performance arts  disciplines, such as music and dance. The arts centre also produces it own plays that have toured and have won accolades at festivals and other theatre spaces over the years, including taking shows to the National Arts Festival in Makhanda.

Smal Ndaba

Founded by Smal Ndaba and Philis Klotz, Sibikwa Arts Centre often struggles to get funding especially from public agencies, including ironically from  the City of Ekurhuleni, where without doubt, the centre plays an important role in skilling the youth in arts skills, offering them an opportunity to develop careers in the arts.

“On Monday the 26th of April 2021 at 10h00, the Sibikwa Arts Centre and its community of learners, parents and stakeholders will be delivering the attached petition to the Ekurhuleni Head Office, located at 15 Queen Street, Germiston.

Just a day before South Africa celebrates Freedom Day, the Sibikwa Arts Centre management, staff and beneficiaries will be exercising their democratic right to actively confront the systemic obstacles that hinder progress in the Ekurhuleni Metro, particularly with regard to the arts and culture sector. As detailed in the petition, the Sibikwa Arts Centre has a 33-year history of serving the community and Metro, through its provision of quality arts education and training, award-winning touring productions, community building projects and employment opportunities.

Philis Klotz

“Following multiple attempts over the years to build a relationship with the Metro, being consistently denied requests for funding, and an apparent disinterest on the part of the Metro to engage; the Sibikwa Arts Centre is currently gathering signatures in support of this petition. The Sibikwa Arts Centre expects to submit to the Executive Mayor, Cllr Mzwandile Masina, 2000 signatures of community members supporting its plea to the Metro to ring-fence R4 000 000 annually, to support its flagship projects including the Saturday Arts Academy, Inclusive Creative Arts Programme and community engagement and heritage preservation events.

We request your support of the Sibikwa Arts Centre and its community of learners, parents and stakeholders delivering the petition to the Mayor, and raising awareness around this collective effort for the advancement of socio-economic transformation for disadvantaged communities in Ekurhuleni, through quality education, creative expression and cultural participation, “ Sibikwa said in a statement released yesterday, April, 20,2021.

What the petition says

“We, the Sibikwa Arts Centre and our community of learners and parents, residing in the Ekurhuleni Metro,

hereby submit this petition to the Executive Mayor, Cllr Mzwandile Masina; HoD for Sport, Recreation, Arts and

Culture, Zanele Katembo; and Head of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Division, Nontuthuzelo Sipambo; to ring-

fence R4 000 000 annually, to support our flagship projects including the Saturday Arts Academy, Inclusive

Creative Arts Programme and community engagement and heritage preservation events. Sibikwa has repeatedly

been denied requests for Grant-in-Aid funding and our efforts to engage with the Metro for the collaborative

advancement of socio-economic transformation for disadvantaged communities in Ekurhuleni, have been met

with disinterest.

We wish to draw your attention to the following:

– Sibikwa has a formidable 33-year history in the Ekurhuleni Metro providing quality arts education,

theatre performance, vocational training and job creation, while preserving, promoting and protecting

indigenous languages and cultural practices.

– Sibikwa creates over 100 jobs for people annually, delivers an average of 20 education, training and

capacity building projects, and presents arts programmes and events that generate awareness of socio- economic issues and activate attitudinal and behavioural shifts, reaching over 11 500 people a year.

– Sibikwa has a long-standing track record of ethically and effectively working with marginalised youth,

young vulnerable learners, people with disabilities and women from the lower socio-economic groups

in Ekurhuleni.

– Sibikwa is an accredited service provider for the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA) and the South African Council of Educators (SACE).

– Sibikwa puts the Metro on the national and international cultural map through our award-winning productions and SA-EU Dialogues.

– In 2018, Sibikwa was declared a Centre of Excellence by the national Department of Arts and Culture; and in 2020, Sibikwa received the Gauteng Premier’s Service Excellence Award for Social Transformation in the category of Arts and Culture.

Sibikwa has earned its place as the jewel in the crown of the Metro; giving families a safe, uplifting space for their children; and empowering individuals to become financially independent by leveraging and honing their inborn creative talent to become self-sustaining members of society, and creating a ripple effect of impact by equipping young people with the tools to serve and uplift their own communities.

We therefore feel that it is imperative that the Metro recognizes that Sibikwa is an accredited institution, not an adhoc project, and deserves ring-fenced funds to be allocated to the Centre on an annual basis, within a long-term contract, to be reviewed every 5 years. Sincerely, The Sibikwa Arts Centre Management, Staff and Beneficiaries.

CITYLIFE/ARTS was unable to get comment from the Mayor before publication, but we will print his comment when and If we get it to update this story.

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