The following speech was delivered by the City’s Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille,
at the launch of the Emerging Artists Development Programme, a partnership between the City of Cape Town and the Artscape.
It gives me great pleasure to be part of this occasion today – a celebration of the arts and talent in our city. I’m sure many of you have already seen the evidence of that talent in front of us today and during the exhibition run over the weekend.
As we celebrate Heritage Month this September, we are reminded of where we come from and the many unique cultures that make us who we are.
The use of the arts to illustrate the diverse cultural heritage we have here in Cape Town fills me with joy.
Cape Town is blessed with many gifted artists who continually make us proud of their abilities and achievements, not only here in the city but in other parts of the country and on the world stages.
I have for a couple of years seen numerous galleries and art studios open up in our city where well-known artists show and sell their work.
We really appreciate and realise the significance of these established artists, their contribution to our economy, and how they work to showcase the beauty of this wonderful city in their work.
However, I felt it was important for us as the City of Cape Town to provide a space where young and emerging artists can showcase their own work.
For the majority of these developing visual artists, making a living from their work is a challenge because it is expensive to buy material, find space to display and establish the proper networks to sell their work.
And for many of them it is tougher because they come from previously disadvantaged communities where, under apartheid, there was little to no investment in infrastructure that could support their artistic trade.
As an opportunity city, we want to offer a platform as a stepping stone for their careers and expose their work to people who would normally not come across their craft.
That is why we partnered with Artscape to facilitate the Emerging Visual Arts Programme and we thank Marlene le Roux and her team for hosting this exhibition on our behalf.
We are also doing this exhibition and launch of this programme at a time when the world is here to see the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art to make sure that these upcoming artists are not excluded from the exposure while the world’s focus is on Cape Town’s arts scene.
Once again Cape Town is affirming its place as a leading city as we join other major cities like Paris and Sao Paulo in having our own museum displaying work from across the African continent.
Just as importantly, we are building an inclusive and opportunity city by investing in young talent and giving them the exposure they deserve to take their careers in art to greater heights.
On display here today is the amazing work by six young emerging artists in Cape Town. One of them is 14-year-old Litha, who at age of 12 sold his first painting to a buyer from Scotland.
This young man from Gugulethu wants to study art history, sell his work locally and internationally, and dreams of owning an art gallery. He can make that a reality with the right support.
Another artist, Asemahle who is 24 years old, graduated from the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art earlier this year, where she majored in sculpture.
She is part of a collective of 11 black women called iQhiya, based in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Botswana. She has exhibited her work in various spaces and often participates in the Infecting the City festival.
As a caring city, we want to ensure that these young people realise their potential and achieve their dreams of being world-famous visual artists.
This is not a once-off project. This is a pilot phase for what is to come and we plan to sustain it to give upcoming artists a fighting chance in this industry.
Our intention is to provide opportunities to about 20 local emerging visual artists from previously disadvantaged areas where we provide training, development and possibly a permanent space to display their crafts.
These emerging artists will also have the opportunity to promote their work next month when I activate space at Greenmarket Square as part of the Mayor’s First Thursdays.
During that programme we are giving an opportunity to upcoming artists as well as established performers to showcase their talent.
I want to thank the artists whose work is in front of us for being an inspiration for people in our communities and for shining the light on this neglected space of young artist development and support.
We will continue to invest in inclusive public spaces and avail our facilities for initiatives aimed at empowering fledgling artists.
By working together, we can truly make a great city even greater and show the world that our past and our circumstances cannot stop us from being our best.
Thank you, baie dankie, enkosi, shukran. God bless.