In keeping with its objective to create access to the arts, the Transnet Foundation has sponsored Transnet Summit Newshounds to report on the Summit. Using new media such as facebook, twitter and blogging, nine final year journalism students from the University of Johannesburg, led by established journalist Bongani Madondo (previously with the Sunday Times now arts critic and writer), are ensuring that the topics covered at the Summit reach a global audience.

 

For the Summit Newshounds, reporting on the Summit is also an opportunity to develop their skills in arts reporting. This experience has the potential to grow the number of arts journalists in South Africa. 

By offering reports and news bytes of issues raised at the Summit, the Summit Newshounds will ensure that those supporters and practitioners of the arts will have access to the content that is driving the Summit.

South Africa now has a voice!

By Estelle Snyman

 

A proud South Africa plays host to the 4th World Summit on Arts and Culture which kicked off on September 22 at the Alexander Theater in Johannesburg.

The streets of Jozi are abuzz with different cultures and interesting debates. Tuesday night started off with key note addresses from South Africa’s Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana, the Chairperson of the International Federation of Arts and Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) Risto Ruohonen and the chairperson of the National Arts Council (NAC) Advocate Brenda Madumise.

As the night progressed the speakers were directed to the theater where the night ended with a performance of the arts.

This was the first time the World Summit on Arts and Culture was held on South African soil. The NAC’s Madumise said that this was made possible by a bid to have the event hosted here. The process included holistic analysis of the country and the motive for it to be held in SA.

 

Madumise added that the summit is a wonderful opportunity for people to experience South Africa.  The event will bring people from a vast majority of countries and different cultures.  And tourists will bring about “economic growth and development for South Africa”. The Summit is intended to bring about intercultural dialogue between policy makers.

 

 “The World Summit brings the different funding agencies from all over the world and this will in turn be beneficial to deserving arts and culture programs”.

She adds that South Africa needs a dedicated “body of interest”. Madumise asks the question:” Do we need a chapter in African countries?”  And “who will resource these chapters?”  This is one of the main questions that will be discussed at the round table sessions at the Summit.

The Summit will bring stimulate debate and give different countries a chance to form networks and contacts for the growth of arts and culture. She concluded by saying that “South Africa needs a voice” and “with this Summit we have a voice, we have the opportunity to raise concerns and eagerness for development. This will also be a learning experience for this country,” Madumise.

 “Jamaica comes to Mzansi”

 

Q&A Interview with Jamaica’s Minister of Arts and Culture, Olivia Grange

Lerato Makomene Talks Five Hot Issues with the Minister

 

1. You came all the way from Jamaica just for the summit, can you tell us what you are hoping to gain from this experience?

 

I hope to absorb the conduct of the summit and to share my culture with a variety of the people from different nations.

 

2. As one of the speakers at the summit, what message will you be bringing across?

 

My talk will be about creating a policy that will involve different forms of arts and culture. We are determined to create communication and implement networking on a global scale. I will also showcase the improvement that we had in Jamaica since the introduction of our cultural policy.

 

3. What is your vision for the summit?

 

So far the summit has been done well and we hope to expand our networking and unite the different cultures. We all need to take arts and culture to a new level and create a better life, not only for those who came to the summit but also for those who are out there in society. High level of communication between the ministers will also strengthen relationships.

 

4. How has your stay been in South Africa so far and what are your thoughts on the opening?

 

It has been a wonderful experience and I have met a number of interesting people who have a lot to say about their cultures.

 

5. Who are you working with to ensure that the cultural policy will also reach the youth?

I have brought with me one of my directors, Bartley Sidney, who is working with young people to help them understand the depth of arts and culture, beyond mere performances. We are also open to new, young, innovative ideas.    

 

Vox pops on the opening of the summit

By Lerato Makomene

The 4th annual summit took place at the Alexander Theatre in Braamfontein where delegates and people from all over the world came to celebrate and showcase their cultures with each other.

 

Cassandra Goins (Representative with Putumayo World Music): “I came with the minister of Arts and culture from Jamaica. This event is interesting as it is exploring different cultures and to see who made an effort to come to the event.  I came with an open mind to learn a lot of things from other people.”

 

Josh Nyapimba (Representative of Zimbabwe): “I heard about the summit through my friends and I am here to share my culture with other people and to explore opportunities and possible collaborators”.

 

Viola May (An event and communication coordinator from Cape Town): “I came here to gain knowledge and share experience with people from different nations. The networking has been good and fun. I must say though that it was not what is expected, I thought it would be a formal gathering but I love street parties, well done to the organizers.

 

Lebogang Magoka (Representative of British council): “So far the event is going well. This is an opportunity for South Africa to show case its talents. I expect the performances to be outstanding and put our country on the map.”

 

Quresh H Ahmed, (General manager of Bomas of Kenya Limited): “I am a member of the board who was part of the selection of where the summit should be hosted and we chose South Africa because of its variety of cultures. I am happy with the hospitality of the people here and I see the summit in the same light as the world cup.”

 

Arts Dance Sport, Parkours Leapfrogs to Jozi                                                                               Review by Estelle Snyman

The 4th World Summit on Arts and Culture introduced a dynamic group of performers to the global celebration. The performances included the alternative sport, parkour also known as “free- running.”

This discipline was performed outside the Alexander theatre where the streets were filled with an audience of vast variety of cultures. Parkour can be described as: “an art of movement and basically getting from point A to point B,” according to Deen Schroeder one of the parkour athletes.

He continues to say: “Parkour is a sport where it imitates the way cavemen did their hunting, they had to get through certain obstacles to navigate their way through their surroundings like we do through our own urban jungle.” He playfully comments.

He means to say that because parkour is street orientated, climbing from one building to the other, getting through different structures and how they perform tricks to get over/jump off/climb up these structures. 

This includes a combination of jumping off rooftops, climbing poles and doing back flips off walls.

Parkour isn't just about fancy footwork as fellow athlete Nabeel Khan explains that it's more mental than physical: “The challenging part of parkour is that we have to get to know our bodies so it's more of a mental challenge than physical power.”

This sport requires a disciplined training schedule, according to Jacky Ho the team captian: “We train at least four to five hours every Saturday and also when we have free time we train our bodies to be able to do the physical part of parkour.” He continues to say that: “We don't train to compete against other groups, but we strive to improve our skills.”

The group further says that: “The arts are about having a passion for something and sticking to it.” This is why this sport is similar to the arts because according to Martin Bissay: “Parkour is about learning how to conquer what seems impossible and also building a trust between the different members.”

The group seems to have a very close bond and Bissay further states that: “we are like a family.”

In South Africa parkour is still fairly unknown, as Nabeel explains: “Other countries have had more exposure to this specific sport and we as South African parkour's still have a long way to go.” Ultimately parkour is not just a bunch of guys jumping around; they view the world as their artistic playground as Deen says: “The world is our canvas and we are the artists.”

 

Dress your Heritage

 

By Cora Mamatela

 

World delegates at the Summit are set to celebrate are their individual cultural identities at the Arts Summit on Heritage Day in South Africa. Heritage Day is a day that acknowledges the rich and diverse South African culture through focusing on cultural expressions such as cuisine, languages and way of dress, music, etc.

 

Thus it was befitting that the international delegates celebrates the day by   dressing in traditional attire, signifying a myriad of identities and traditions.

Traditional attire signifies the culture of an individual and opens up non verbal intercultural dialogue between the “seer” and the “seen.”

 

Kenneth Nkosi, a South African Art Practioner from an organization known       

As Soweto Visual Arts (SVA) –not to be confused with the famous film actor-

is proud of South African traditional clothing because it is a tool for South Africans to affirm their cultures within the dominant West attire and culture.

 

“I wear my heritage”, Nkosi says. He also believes that traditional culture can heal and bind the performance of the arts in Africa. Mulenga Kapwe Chair of the National Council of the Arts Council and Chair of the Arterial Network from Zambia finds it remarkable that South Africa celebrates a day to preserve their heritage.

 

Kapwe says that there is no heritage day in Zambia but she has written coffee table publications on the diverse cultures of Zambian heritage. ”I make it my personal choice to wear African clothing as the shows identity. It is the only thing to offer the world.”

 

She only supports clothing made by African even though she acknowledges that the Chinese have taken over the textile industry in most parts of Africa.

 

Akinsola Kolawole Thorn Arts craft businessman from Nigeria says that heritage in his country is not celebrated. The only way to celebrate his Nigerian culture is only through traditional clothing.

 

“This clothing shows that I am African. It shows who I am”, Kolawole says. Nigerian traditional attire is called aso-ofi, which is signifies modern fashion cultural attire.

 

The heritage of South Africa is very strong and alive in the country. The spirit of culture has acted as a force to compel delegates to take pride in their own national heritage and it has encouraged them to take their own national attire seriously.   

Tradition finds Modernity

By Lesego Motshegwa

The 4th World Summit on Arts and Culture hosted at the Museum Africa in the vibrant Newtown district, has become the platform where tradition meets modernity.

London based Professor Gerard Lemos, is a partner at the Lemos & Crane which is an organization that focuses on social research. Lemos presented the viewpoint that modernity is associated with the idea of being ‘advanced’ and that the international perception of “modern culture will always attempt to put down the of tradition.”

With the world being influenced by western ways of thinking, we see from the changes within our own society that the youth has a similar perspective. An example of this is that, the black South African youth may view the Hip- Hop culture as being more interesting than slaughtering a goat.

However, Lemos argues that, though the West is seen as “being better, it is rather impractical to create a seamlessly multicultural world.” This shows that elements of old traditions need to be kept alive even with the influential changes of modernity.

He also suggests that the global world should rather create an open platform, “a place where the individual is placed in the centre and at the heart of the cosmopolitan society.”  

In terms of preserving traditional values with the ever changing modern society, Lemos states that “objectivity is essential however; I would argue that objectivity has to be a moral obligation in order to create an open civil space for people to be what they want to be.”

Another delegate and speaker at the Tradition versus Modernity round table, Dr. Maude Dikobe, a professor of the English Department at the University of Botswana, began her discussion by raising the awareness to the fact that there are certain cultural practices that contradict the principles of human rights.

Dikobe says that, “we use culture to normalize everything and at times feel that we cannot be questioned.” She also adds that the global society needs to realize the complexities of the various levels of culture. Asked about the personal challenges that she has experienced, she says.

 

“As an African woman I’m often told that I am more western however, I know where I am from and will always keep that in mind wherever I go.” Though aware of the tensions between tradition and modernity, Dikobe comments that “the ideas and rulings of African kingdoms need to be reevaluated if they infringe on individual human rights.” 

It is through Lemos and Dikobe’s debate, about how artists may be influenced by the change between tradition and modernization, which concluded that the role of the artist within this divide is complex and Lemos adds that artists should empower themselves and “realize that intercultural dialogue opens more space to new ideas.”

A Japanese academic, Professor Mayuko Sano concludes that the tensions between tradition and modernity “are intercultural and occur everywhere and we need to realize that those who comment on this issue are all correct.”

Israeli Playwright advocates radical change through arts

  Lara Vermeulen discusses theatre radical chic with him

Motti Lerner, an acclaimed Israeli playwright and screenwriter will be speaking at the 4th World Summit on Arts and Culture in Johannesburg on the 24th of September 2009.

Along with Shahid Nadeem from Pakistan and Iman Auon from Palestine, the playwright  will attempt to explore the theme; Arts in conflict and post-conflict zones at tomorrow’s set of “Roundtable” discussions held between  at the Museum Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg.

 Attending this year’s Summit as a representative of the Israeli political theatre industry, which according to him has been struggling to initiate change for the past 40 years.

He  will, by speaking at the Round Table thematically centred upon Arts in conflict and post-conflict zone  attemp to address the way in which theatre could be used as a catalyst for political and social change..

 “My ultimate goal and reason for attending this year’s summit is to create an interest in using theatre as a catalyst which could ignite change and promote a shared understanding”.

While his speech will focus on theatre as an instrument for  political and social change, Lerner also hopes that his speech will be able to “encourage writers to deal with political conflict” and thus confront the “price that citizens pay when controlled by restrictive political regimes”.

Asked how he would define success in terms of this 4th World Summit,  the playwright stated that his aspirations are in fact, two-fold:  to inspire and be inspired!

Lerner, who came to the country three weeks before the Summit actually opened, has spent his time heading a workshop at Wits University. He  was moved by the effort made by young South African playwrights to address political and social conflict through a medium such as theatre that is easily understandable by all.