Arts Alive 2010 Switches On Jozi

Joburg City is set to switch on to the most extensive-ever Joburg Arts Alive International Festival

Last year close to 70 000 people experienced the 2009 Joburg Arts Alive International Festival – and this year the city’s flagship arts event is set to be bigger, and, yes, better!

Now celebrating its emergence into adulthood with its 18th birthday, the Joburg Arts Alive International Festival delivers a standout programme of hundreds of events, across more than 30 venues spread throughout the city.

Unlike many other festivals in South Africa, the Joburg Arts Alive International Festival really lives up to its billing as a true arts festival that encompasses different genres and reaches into every corner of the city’s seven regions. It kicks off with a bang with an opening event at Newtown’s Dance Factory featuring South Africa’s Got Talent winner, Darren Rajbal, and attended by Joburg’s Executive Mayor, Amos Masondo.

The 2010 programme – running from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 26th September- builds on the diversity of last year, delivering a line-up of shows, exhibitions and events covering music, dance, theatre, poetry, comedy, visual arts and film. In addition, the programme boasts several Festivals within a Festival and a number of workshops that dovetail with the City of Joburg’s commitment to include a developmental element to the event’s programming.

Says Steven Sack, Director – Directorate of Arts, Culture & Heritage at the City of Joburg, “Everyone’s talking about how to deal with the post-2010 hangover – but we believe that there is no better way to keep the spirit of positivity and celebration going than through the Joburg Arts Alive International Festival.

“It’s been said many times before, that Joburg is a city with a diverse cultural identity and is also the gateway into the rest of the country and Africa,” Sack comments.

“This means any arts event hosted here needs to reflect that in its line-up – and I think that this year’s programme does that superbly.”

Bafana Sithole, member of the City of Johannesburg Mayoral Committee for Community Development, praised the programme’s extensive reach throughout the city and its strong emphasis on community development.

“The Joburg Arts Alive International Festival is a gift to our residents and visitors during spring, with many of the events being free to the public – but there is another side to it as well,” Sithole emphasises.

“Through workshops like the interactive drumming workshops at Orange Farm running throughout September, and the Alex Film Festival Workshops towards the end of September, the City of Joburg’s belief in communities and professionals working together to impact the lives of our residents becomes a reality.”

Highlights of the 2010 Joburg Arts Alive International Festival are many but start with the one event that Joburg residents look forward to at the start of every year: the annual Jazz on the Lake at Zoo Lake, just one of 20 music events taking place during September.

This event sees the City of Joburg throw its arms open for one of the biggest FREE events of the year – and in 2010 diversity is the name of the game with a line-up that features multi-award winning Afro-Soul singer, Lira, top Afrikaans popstar, Kurt Darren, veteran music icon, Caiphus Semenya, up-coming soul-pop artist Auriol Hays (just off an acclaimed show at the Montreux Jazz Festival), jazz act Afro’Traction and Indian band, Mrigya whose mix of blues, funk, folk, latino, Indian Classical, and jazz has ensured its strong standing on the global music scene.

Theatre-lovers are well served yet again with a brilliant line-up of shows, from the community-based Alternative Spaces programme, which has a presence in all 7 regions and culminates in a best of the best festival in Newtown to The Purr Factory, a new musical staged at the University of Johannesburg’s Arts Centre. A definite highlight for those unable to make the trip to Grahamstown for the annual National Arts Festival is ‘969 Best of Grahamstown’, which brings ten of the festival’s best productions into the heart of Joburg with multiple showings at four Wits University venues.

The dance element of the 2010 Joburg Arts Alive International Festival explodes into life on September 2nd with a four-day run of Dada Masilo’s ‘Swan Lake’ – and the action doesn’t let up from there, taking in everything from emerging young talent in the Johannesburg Youth Ballet’s production of Peter and the Wolf at the Joburg Zoo to internationally acclaimed contemporary dance in ‘FOOFWA d’Imobilite’s and Vijayalakshmi’s Swan Lake Mohiniyattam – the Indian classical dance form from Kerela. Social dance also has a place to shine with salsa workshops and a highly anticipated Salsa Showcase scheduled on the last Sunday of the Festival.

Visual Arts have become synonymous with Joburg’s public spaces in recent years – especially during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The flagship visual arts initiatives have a strong eco-thrust. These include Urban Eyes – ‘Greening our Lives’ – an exhibition of mosaics made from waste material and the Bottle Top mosaic comprised of over 94000 plastic bottle tops. Deaf Joburg born artist, Tommy Motswai, is in celebratory exhibition at the Market Theatre Gallery. Visual Arts and music come together in William Kentridge and Phillip Miller’s fascinating PLAYING WITH IMAGE.

Lovers of comedy will welcome Comedy Nine Nine with David Newton, one of South Africa’s superstar comedians in ‘The Best of Fest’ on Saturday 25th and as host to comedians Tumi Morake, Stuart Taylor, Mark Palmer and Sivuyile Ngesi on Friday 24th.

Another WIN is THEATRE FOR Africa’s award winning Raiders of the Lost Aardvark, featuring Nick and Luke Ellenbogen. This is the 21st edition of this iconic favorite, which scooped the sought after “STANDING OVATION AWARD at the National Arts Festival in 2010.

Poetry and film are also on the programme – including longtime favourites like ‘Speak The Mind Sessions’ and the newly invigorated Alex Film Festival.

Finally, there is the workshop programme and a full eight additional Festivals within a Festival – including the important Shared History The Indian Experience programme, which this year also commemorates the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first Indian indentured laborers in South Africa.

The 2010 Joburg Arts Alive International Festival is produced and managed for the City of Joburg by Zanusi Brand Solutions. This leading 100 % Black owned Branding Consulting Firm took over the Joburg Arts Alive International Festival in 2009 bringing Zanusi’s award-winning integrated brand solutions approach to the project with significant success.