The recent arts summit was a success as conveners look forward to implementing resolutions

By CityLife Arts  Writer

The STAND Foundation, in association with the Toyota US Woordfees, hosted a successful summit of arts organisations in Stellenbosch from 20-22 September. 

The Summit was attended by leaders of representative organisations such as Im4theArts, Visual Arts Network of South Africa, Theatre and Dance Alliance, National Writers Association of South Africa, South African Guild of Actors, the Clap and Tap Federation, UNIMA South Africa, South African Dance Alliance, ASSITEJ, the SA Performing Arts Health Association and the SA United Cultural and Creative Industries Federation.  In addition to the Toyota US Woordfees, key festivals such as the National Arts Festival, VryFees, Klein Karoo National Arts Festival and Suidooster Festival were represented along with community-based centres and performing spaces like Philippi Arts Centre, Makukhanye Art Room, K-CAP, TX Theatre and Rainbow Arts Organisation. 

Institutions such as the Centre for Creative Arts, National Afrikaans Theatre Initiative, Tin Town Theatre andthe SA Creative Industries Incubator were also represented.

At the start of the Summit, many had expressed their fear that the Summit would be just another talk shop but after two days of intense engagement, delegates agreed on six resolutions that would be implemented over the next few months.

These resolutions include building and consolidating resilient organisations that represent the interests of the arts sector, developing new tiers of leadership through training and mentorships, campaigning for the arts to be mainstreamed in education, mobilizing the creative sector to co-operate with other sectors of society to bring about a more just society, and working together to support those who make their livelihoods in the creative sector during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Delegates also resolved to advocate for the Charter of Rights for South African Artists to all relevant political role players and as an expression of this, the Summit hosted the ANC, ACTIONSA, EFF and the DA in a forum on the theme “Why should artists vote for you?”.  It was a robust occasion that opened up opportunities for the creative sector to speak their truths to political power and to engage with political actors beyond the Summit and the forthcoming local government elections.

In moving forward, delegates elected Gregory Maqoma, Sibongile Mngoma and Cornelia Faasen as the co-chairs of this informal coalition to drive the implementation of the resolutions, to expand participation and to keep delegates informed of progress.  The STAND Foundation will provide secretariat services for the foreseeable future.

“I would like to thank the Toyota US Woordfees for their partnership in co-hosting the Summit with us,” said Greg Maqoma, Chairperson of the STAND Foundation.  “This represents exactly the kind of partnerships that we need to be engaging in to benefit the sector as a whole.”

Sibongile Mngoma, President of Im4theArts and of the South African United Cultural and Creative Industries Federation, said that she was very happy with the outcomes of the Summit and looked forward to working to implement the resolutions with colleagues.

The Theatre and Dance Alliance’s deputy chairperson, Cornelia Faasen said “We’ve been working in silos for too long.  COVID-19 has emphasized the need for us to take collective responsibility for our sector.”

The first post-Summit meeting of representatives to plan the implementation of the resolutions and related actions will take place before the end of October.

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