Celebrating 50 years – A message from the Chairperson and CEO

A Message from Marlene le Roux, CEO, Artscape

Wow! 50 years of being a home and a homecoming all rolled into one: an accomplishment. An accomplishment indeed. One almost wants to say a coup, a milestone, an absolute feat. But, in order to celebrate the achievement, we need to be mindful of how it came about and build on the work of those that came before us and lead the way to a future that is even more inclusive, more equitable and more just – a constant strife.

This year is indeed significant in so many ways and when we thought of the theme “yesterday, today and tomorrow” we were aware that while it may sound cheesy to some, it resounds with so much of what we need to pay attention to – not just for the arts and for Artscape, but for us as a nation. We may very well ask: what is a building? Is it not just mainly stone and water? But we know in our hearts it is so much more. After all, there is a huge difference between a house and a home.

When I think of this building and the theme we have chosen to celebrate its golden jubilee, I hear the words of Tata Madiba still ringing clearly in my ears: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.” And those words alone are enough to know why this theme is so important. Let us never forget that when the then Nico Malan opened its doors just five decades ago, it excluded the largest section of the population as if we just didn’t exist, treating us like the second-class citizens the Apartheid Regime believed us to be. And yet, here we are, in 2021, in all our glory, telling our stories on the very stages that alas were denied us when it first opened its doors. That is what this building represents: the evolution of a species, the struggles of stalwarts, the wherewithal of those that helped to bring us to this point in our history. And it is to them that we give thanks as the building turns 50. It is through their tenacity that we are able to call this building our home.

There is an irony here: the Nico Malan Theatre Centre was built during a cataclysmic time in the history of our country and indeed the arts and, ironically, we are again going through a time of upheaval, of change, in the form of a pandemic that forces us to recalibrate, to re-invent ourselves as it were…and to look inward, to our humanity to find the solutions.

To the many faces, bodies, and spirits that have graced the stages and foyers of this celebrated building, who bear testimony to the richness of its antiquity, and who held up mirrors that made us see our lives in ways only the arts can, you must know you are the true builders of the future for many more faces, bodies and spirits, long after these words have been written and even forgotten. You embody the true meaning of how critical the arts is to this world and breathe life into the theme: “yesterday, today and tomorrow.”


A Message from Rajesh Jock, Chairperson, Artscape Board

Artscape Theatre Centre (formally the Nico Malan Theatre) has made major advances since its inception in 1971.  Relying on a strong commitment from the National Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, the theatre now celebrates its Golden Anniversary!

Entertainment, arts and culture contributes to the vibrancy, heritage and activation of the Cape Town Metropolitan City as well as the Western Cape Province, and plays an important role in tourism and economic growth.  Since being renamed circa 1999, Artscape has provided a modern, contemporary and world-class regional venue supporting arts and culture, and especially local talent.

Artscape represents a very special organisation, comprising committed professionals, who are dedicated to the advancement of many different local and international productions in the City of Cape Town and many other parts of the Western Cape Province.  Combined with the passion and commitment of major stakeholders both nationally and provincially, Artscape has become a home for all in the arts and will continue to embrace the diverse communities of the Western Cape through performers and patrons.

I thank and congratulate everyone who has, over many years, dedicated their expertise, time, effort and passion to continually building this wonderful organisation and making it what it is today.  This years’ festivities will showcase our annual events, exhibitions and community acts; reviewing the past and present accomplishments of the theatre.  This years’ commemorations provides an overview of Artscape’s history, its membership and executive, endeavours and achievements, awards and prizes, and future aspirations.

It is an extremely exciting time for Artscape, as there are many important fundamental and applied areas to tackle as we continue our endeavours to transform the arts, build sustainable theatre practices, and improve education and development.

From artists and musicians to school concerts, exhibitions, theatre productions and more, Artscape is full of home-grown flair that has been fostered and supported by a professional leadership team – who continue to receive high praise from all corners.

To conclude, I wish to congratulate the entire team at Artscape and my colleagues on the Council who have generously contributed their knowledge and effort in putting together this Anniversary Year.  Fifty years is certainly a milestone and, clearly, a solid cornerstone for the arts’ great future over the next 50 years and beyond!

I look forward to enjoying this year’s anniversary program and encourage everyone to attend.