Minister Marais' Speech at the SoloAfrika MonoDrama Festival
WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND SPORT, ANROUX MARAIS
SOLOAFRIKA MONODRAMA FESTIVAL KEYNOTE ADDRESS
3 JUNE 2019
Good evening, molweni nonke, goeienaand,
It is indeed an absolute pleasure to address you at the third SoloAfrika MonoDrama Festival to be staged at our esteemed Artscape Theatre over the next 5 days. We welcome both our international and local guests and extend our appreciation for sharing your contexts and lived experiences with us. Through understanding, together we can change the world, one story at a time.
Becoming increasingly more prevalent in the South African conversation as a result of its global implications is that of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Although there exists much uncertainty around what exactly it is and how it will affect civilization, one thing is clear: the arts and cultural affairs will have to take centre stage as a proactive response to the rapid changes underway.
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) has a fundamental role to fulfil as it delivers services which affords the opportunities to escape the cycles of poverty in our communities, while affording platforms for interaction to drive understanding, tolerance and acceptance. We have and will continue to put different measures in place to bring about positive change to our communities. We strive to improve the self-esteem of our youth and identify in them talents they would otherwise not explore. The SoloAfrika MonoDrama Festival shares our mutual objectives and undoubtedly assists us in realising our vision of a socially inclusive, active and connected Western Cape. The nature of our business plays a powerful role in shaping, framing, communicating and influencing the future. In fact, according to the South African Cultural Observatory, “It is our responsibility to reflect, question, resist, review and rebuild when and where necessary. In short, it is our duty to reimagine the future”. Our department has made great strides in implementing a reimagined future in trying times, but we will fail in our objectives without our passionate partners we have found in Applauz Arts Intiative and the Artscape, to name only a few.
As we are resolute in our conviction to initiate and strengthen projects supporting local and international artists, together we will continue to sustainably offer a platform to not only showcase or network but to afford a safe space to tell their once untold stories. However, we can all agree, more concerted effort needs to be made to equip the present and future generations with the ability to empathise, imagine and create, and the key to develop these abilities is a life-long education that is interdisciplinary, cross-functional, cross-industry and cross-cultural. It is therefore pivotal to integrate the arts into our societal discourse as it will indeed reduce the skills gap that the next generation is facing, and subsequently prepare the leaders of tomorrow.
We have to remain mindful that the power of arts and humanities are right at the core of technological processes, to enlighten, guide and support the necessary dialogues required for societal upliftment and progress. Yo-Yo Ma makes it very clear when he stated “It’s not enough to outsource culture to the artists and musicians, and receive it as a passive audience. We must engage the full spectrum of human understanding, and every one of us needs to participate in strengthening our cultural resources, all the time.” The arts build trust, the trust needed to bridge conflicting views and interests, to overcome current barriers and obstacles with dynamic and innovative approaches. Cultural affairs prompt us to have those “calm, constructive and even uncomfortable conversations on the kind of future we want”, as advocated by Professor Klaus Schwab. They are catalysts for these conversations, are constant reminders that we need to engage in them; and a reason, a reminder, and sometimes an excuse, not to shy away from them.
On that note, I wholeheartedly thank each individual who had a hand in the success of this festival as you have indeed helped us in highlighting these important narratives and will highlight the significance of sharing lived experiences especially from different cultural backgrounds and societal contexts. Today, once again, reaffirms that we all are united in our diversity and that more intense collaboration is needed to change the bitter to better. The various measures put in place to divide us based on differing cultural backgrounds fail in its destructive objectives when unfortunate pasts are acknowledged, lived experiences are shared and heritage is celebrated in this way as a platform is created for cultural expression to contribute to awareness, understanding and acceptance. All of which is much needed in our beloved country and world at large today.
In closing, I leave you with the African proverb, “Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter”.
I thank you