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Thursday Nov 29, 2012

Artscape revamp 'to boost economic growth'

Artscape management's vision for its R1.5 billion revamp is to turn a "windswept barren area" around it into an iconic cultural precinct that will grow performing arts to a valuable economic contributor.

An artist's impression of the new galleria area which will house cafes, cultural shops and other small businesses.

Artscape chief executive officer Michael Maas yesterday unveiled a plan to turn 17 000m2 of vacant land next to the existing complex into one of the largest arts precincts in Africa. Maas said the Artscape's revamp, dubbed "Artscape Live Vision 2020", would add to the renewal of the foreshore area and could link to the CTICC's R690 million expansion.

The Artscape plan includes an arts academy to cater for 300 students, a new concert hall, an amphitheatre, a drama studio, additional rehearsal rooms and a galleria area to cater for cafes and other small businesses.

"Our planned venues are ones we believe will grow the arts and with a new flexible theatre, more stages and seats, we can make this area less of a windswept barren place and turn it into the ideal place for artists and audiences," Maas said. Earlier this year, when announcing the CTICC's expansion plans, chief executive officer Rashid Toefy said the venue, which will double in size, would contribute to the regeneration of Founder's Garden and connect to the Artscape precinct.

The CTICC's expansion is meant to start next year and is set for completion in 2015. It will include 10 000m of retail space, a hospital, hotel and an office tower.

Artscape chairman Somadoda Fikeni said they were still securing final approvals from local, provincial and national government as well as securing funds to implement the project.

Maas said most of the funding would come from a national government grant. Artscape's management was in talks with the Department of Arts and Culture about financing the expansion. "Our vision for 2020 is to create an epicentre of cultural excellence by using the performing arts industry as a prime catalyst of economic growth, human development and social cohesion," Fikeni said.

The 41-year-old venue stages about 715 productions annually and attracts more than 317 000 visitors. In the past financial year the theatre created 1 168 jobs and contributed R541m to the local economy, and Maas said the expansion could more than double this contribution.

"The arts are not only about these buildings but also about the development of people and creating opportunities to bring people on stage," Maas said. The nearby MyCiti service could also increase the number of people visiting the theatre.

In the past two years Artscape has upgraded its Opera House auditorium, renovated rehearsal spaces and improved other facilities.

Cape Times


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