Campus Life

THE ARTS AND THE AFRICAN CITY

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The people of Johannesburg once again had the opportunity to experience the city in a physical, musical, and poetic way. Poetry, music, dance and theatre are being celebrated during the Johannesburg Arts Alive International Festival that kicked off on the 31st of August.

“Cities are more than just about bricks and mortar, they are about the quality of life,” says Festival Director Lesley Hudson. “The arts makes a huge contribution to the way we experience our city, and the Johannesburg Arts Alive International Festival plays an important part in this.”

Hosted by the City of Johannesburg, this is the 22nd year the Festival is ongoing. It has an intense programme that offers a wide range of performances, exhibitions, workshops and musicals taking place at various venues in Johannesburg.

The theme of this year is twenty years of democracy and a lot of the shows were organised around it. Hudson emphasizes that the organisers of the Festival tries every year to consider the different genres, ages, and areas. “But most importantly, we try to pair the unexpected with the better known. So, you will come to a concert because you recognise a name, but will be exposed to a performer you would not ordinarily have seen,” says Hudson. “It’s about broadening horizons.”

A stronger focus on the youth would enrich the Festival, and, according to Hudson, “…attracting a stronger pan-African audience” would make it even better. The Festival started during the last few years of Apartheid, when the arts were used as a way to contribute to shift South Africa to a democratic society. Hudson says the City of Johannesburg realized an arts festival could “give voice to its citizens” and be part of building a better and fairer society.

On until the 10th of September, Hudson encourages students and the public to go beyond what they know and feel comfortable with, and let the Festival wow them.

“There is nothing more thrilling than seeing 24 000 Joburgers all speaking the language of music; enjoying the sun, the sound, and each other,” says Hudson.