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De Lille on Cape Town’s open spaces

City of Cape Town Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille says that the use of arts to illustrate the diverse cultural heritage in Cape Town makes the city unique.

De Lille says, “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. 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. We will continue to invest in inclusive public spaces and avail our facilities for initiatives aimed at empowering fledgling artists.”    


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