Heritage month is about celebrating who we are as a people and one way of doing so is through the arts. Having just come out of heritage month we look back by speaking to four arts industry heads on the importance of the arts in celebrating our heritage.
Ashraf Johaardien, Executive Producer of the National Arts Festival
When we speak of heritage, what heritage and whose heritage are we referring to? To my mind the answer to those questions is entirely a matter of perspective and has a lot to do with which side of history you find yourself on. Heritage is arguably, just as much about our collective relationship with the future as it is with the past in that it is an ongoing process preserving tangible and intangible aspects of who we are and where we come from. We do this for posterity — so that they may know who we were and who they are. And the role of the arts in that process is about shaping those stories — and in fact telling them — so that they, and we, can live.
Michelle Constant, Business & Arts South Africa CEO
A recent viewing of the production ‘Ubu and the Truth Commission’ at the Market Theatre made clear how the arts are intrinsic to our country’s heritage and intangible heritage. The show which is going on two decades old, remains a powerful and searing telling of South Africa’s history. Watching it too, one realises how the play, its genre and style, gave birth the extraordinarily ferocious offering, ‘Animal Farm’. Indeed ‘Animal Farm’ is the offspring of ‘Ubu’, it is the hashtag generation’s ode to our heritage, view on our present and vision of our future. We should be listening to its message with care.
Adv. Sonwabile Mancotywa, CEO of the National Heritage Council of South Africa
We have come a long way as a nation to recover our heritage from the relics of the gruesome past. In the past 21 years of celebrating our heritage since 1995 in a democratic era, South Africa has inspired the nation and shared the true cultural traditions of its people with the world. The country now boast with festivals that proudly exhibits African heritage. We look forward to a future where young South Africans can voluntarily defend the country’s heritage and embrace the inter-cultural diversity. Each generation will have their work cut out for them to preserve this heritage that define us. Whether they choose to do it through political intervention, artistic expressions, legal frameworks or any other means that would be relevant at that time, is up to them. The generation of today should do the same and most of all, proudly celebrate African heritage. Happy Heritage Day South Africa! Let us celebrate human treasures and legends as our living heritage!
Ismail Mahomed Market Theatre CEO
The Market Theatre Foundation embraces the opportunities during Heritage Month to celebrate its rich and textured legacy that spans 40 years of authentic storytelling. Firmly ensconced in the former Newtown Fruit & Vegetable Market, the Market Theatre complex with its vibrant performances spaces and galleries continues to inspire, engage and entertain its audiences. It honours the writers, directors, actors and many other creatives who use their talents and skills to share and celebrate the values, histories, cultures and traditions that makes South Africa such a beautiful nation.