Lack of Government Funding for the Arts Lamented at Jomba! Opening
Lack of funding for the Arts was slated by the Artistic Director of the 16th Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience, Ms Lliane Loots, at the Festival’s highly successful opening night at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban.
Jomba!, a UKZN Centre for Creative Arts’ (CCA) production, is one of the few remaining contemporary dance festivals in the country. It features five South African companies performing over 10 days and also offers dancers, dance-makers and all interested people an opportunity to engage in workshops, discussions and master classes.
Speaking at the opening, Loots - the Festival’s Artistic Director and Performing Arts Lecturer at UKZN - said: ‘Ironically, 20 years into South Africa’s democracy we have more and more dance training programmes in South Africa but less functioning dance companies. We are subtly being told that it is okay to create artistic job skilling programmes that work with youth, but we are not allowed to nurture them into self-realised critical and funded art makers.
‘What is wanted is a bevy of beautiful and toned dancers hanging around desperate and ready to dance at any function that local and national government might deem appropriate to fund.’
Loots criticised the government for a lack of Arts funding, saying those working in the cultural and arts sector faced censorship, lethargy, apathy and blatant disrespect.
‘These attitudes make me understand that at some level, the political well-dressed elites still have a remembrance of the power of critical arts to forge revolutions. Simply put: we only silence that which we see as a threat. And so, no matter how much is taken, destroyed and stolen from this sector, we are reminded that there will always be bodies to move and dance and there will always be stories to be told,’ said Loots.
‘Far from silent, we choose to make dissenting contributions to our freedom that may be smaller and may be more localised, but which are never ever silent. Artists do not simply make work for public consumption - for “entertainment” - we hold onto the belief that our cultural production is a dialogue with our society, both civil and political.’
According to Loots, a lack of partnerships and huge budget cuts resulted in Jomba! going local this year. ‘By local we have agreed to use the limited resources we have to support South African dance companies and artists who do indeed fight the critical fight. I honour all the dance companies performing at this year’s Festival who have foregone fees and found a way to come anyway because they share our fight.’
She thanked the CCA and the eThekwini Municipality for their ongoing funding.
The Festival opened with two works by the Vuyani Dance Theatre: Beautiful Us, created by Gregory Maqoma and Dominion, choreographed by Luyanda Sidiya.
Politically charged Dominion, like Beautiful Us, weeps and dances for a better world, looking at how humanity has distorted its human to human notions of power. Carefully skirting literal narratives, Dominion explores the dynamic between those who are invested with authority and the power they wield over others.
Tickets, at R60 for adults and R45 for scholars, students and pensioners, are available through Computicket or at the venue from one hour before the show.
For more information, go to www.cca.ukzn.ac.za and like the Facebook page: JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience and follow on Twitter: Twitter@Jomba_dance.- Melissa Mungroo