A change in leadership is on the cards for the Festival Committee next year. Jay Pather, who has been a committee member for four to five years, will take over from Sibongile Khumalo as chair.
Pather said he would continue Khumalo’s legacy of broadening opportunities and creating a wider platform for diverse viewpoints.
“We live in powerful times in which arts and culture are contested spaces,” Pather said.
“I’m excited about deciding how best to make use of the cultural expertise we have and the infrastructure available to us.”
Program remains unchanged
Although Pather’s discipline is dance, he firmly asserted that he would not bias the Festival programme to dance. He said that, as chair, he would still be part of a committee that would decide as a group what to feature.
“We are facing a wealth of riches and pressing issues of transformation that provide an exciting opportunity to strive for our place in a global network of culture,” he added.
He commented on how South Africa’s isolation from the rest of the world during apartheid allowed South Africans to be satisfied with mediocrity, but the global scale now enabled us to test our work and, Pather explained, by the global scale.
“I first and foremost mean the African continent.”
Pather said he planned to further develop Think!Fest, which he described as a think tank of ideas.
He said he was also interested in breaking the boundaries between disciplines: “As an artist myself, I cannot dictate to artists. It has to be their original work with artistic integrity, their works have to have merit in their own right.”
He said that artists and the audience had to talk to each other and he hoped to bring to the committee the kind of leadership that would allow this to happen.
Pather said the Festival was an exciting opportunity for South African and world art to be produced side by side. For the Festival to be truly national, it should attract a wider audience and strive for excellence and quality.
Pather said the Festival promoted transformation by allowing artists to develop in spaces, such as the Arena, a platform introduced this year to enable performers to develop their work.
“For true transformation to take place, there must be no compromise on mediocrity. It needs hard work and no excuses,” Pather said.
Audiences want more than commercial work, he said. He added that artists need to be “savagely critical and unafraid to take risks.”
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