Fugard Theatre closure: EFF bl

The exterior of the much-loved Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. Image: The Fugard Theatre

Fugard Theatre closure: EFF blames ANC for collapse of ‘entire creative industry’

“The entire creative industry has been abandoned by national government”.

Fugard Theatre closure: EFF bl

The exterior of the much-loved Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. Image: The Fugard Theatre

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Wednesday 24 March 2021 commented on the “collapse of national sites that encompass our history, namely the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg”.

The party referred to the collapse as “demoralising and culturally crippling. This follows after the Fugard Theatre announced its closure this month, while the Apartheid Museum would be closing temporarily.

The museum will be closing its doors due to the lack of funding, with concerns that it may have to close down permamently. The EFF said in a statement:

“The entire creative industry has been abandoned by national government, with artists periodically talking to the streets and occupying prominent administrative buildings, demanding state intervention as their livelihoods collapse in the face of COVID-19”.

The party blames national government’s lack of funding, however, citing that it has been a problem since before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt. The lack of funding also undercuts Africans’ experience.

Fugard Theatre, for example, gave a platform to artists to “express the experiences of African people, culture, customs, norms and experiences. The party describes theatres as “the soul of performance arts”.

“It was in theatre that Hugh Masekela, Sibongile Khumalo, Mbongeni Ngema, Gibson Kente, Jonn Kani were able to express in song and performance the reality of black people under the brutal grip of the apartheid regime”.

In addition, the theatre played a large part in the “liberation movement and struggle against colonialism and Apartheid”, aspects which according to the EFF “can never be divorced from the arts and story-telling”.

Theatre and performance arts has served as a mode of communication and aided in the preservation of history in African society, “not only on the continent but as well as the diaspora”.

“The Apartheid Museum has been a custodian of our struggle against one of the most brutal crimes against humanity for decades. The tale of the apartheid era was narrated through imagery, artefacts and documents for all to witness”.

The party explains that purveyors of history and the arts “were able to contextualize moments such as the birth of apartheid, the role of liberation movements and leaders”, and key moments.

Those moments include, for example, the Sharpeville Massacre or the events leading to the democratic dispensation. The EFF believes that the African National Congress (ANC), in allowing the collapse of these institutions, “has no regard for history and culture”.

The failure of the regime of the day to protect and sustain these institutions represents a government that has no regard for history and culture, and whose only real function is to send condolences, organize funerals and congratulate artists for achievements they have made no meaning contribution to”.

The EFF therefore calls for the Fugard Theatre, Apartheid Museum and other institutions “to be rescued”.

“Nathi Mthethwa must stop playing a role of an undertaker, a toloki or otherwise known as a professional mourner, and do something meaningful in his term as a Minister”, the statement concludes.