Infecting the City Public Arts Festival took place March 11th – 16th. As part of the festival, the Arts […]
Infecting the City Public Arts Festival took place March 11th – 16th. As part of the festival, the Arts Aweh! Education Programme saw 350 high school learners from 9 different schools engage with professional artists to learn about public art, site-specific art and art as a tool for social change.
The programme took place over three days – Wednesday March 13, Thursday March 14 and Friday March 15, with different schools attending each day. Learners were then invited back on Saturday March 16, to attend a morning workshop, where they created a public art piece which they performed at the festival that afternoon. 17 learners attended and created three powerful pieces which addressed violence against women and children, judgement and prejudice and society’s relationship to money. These were performed at three different sites – on the corner of Castle Street and St George’s Mall, on St George’s Mall between Church and Longmarket Street and on Government Avenue in the Company’s Garden.
At the end of their performances, the group was filled with such excitement and joy for what they had created in only a few hours. The sense of empowerment was visible in their faces, and from the outside one never would have guessed that they’d only met a few hours ago.
On their way back to the District Six Homecoming Centre – our homebase – the other facilitators and I had the privilege of witnessing the most beautiful moment. At the bottom of Government Avenue, the group came across three busking dancers. They stopped, and taking the purple cloth which they used to create their performance spaces on the street, placed it around the three boys. They started clapping, cheering the dancers on and encouraging them to dance. Each of the Arts Aweh! learners, had a piece of purple cloth tied around their wrists to unify them as a group. One of the group took off their arm band, and placed it on the floor and they all added coins to it, as an offering to the dancers. They created such an energy and joy, that other people stopped, watched, clapped, took photographs and left money for the dancers too.
The group also shared food, water and juice with the dancers. It was a moving experience, to see how a group of young people, who had just been on the receiving end of having their voices, hearts and ideas heard and seen, were able to do the same for these young dancers, who couldn’t have been older than 10 or 11.
This is the kind of impact that we cannot measure or capture in project reports. It is the kind of impact that cannot be counted and tallied up in a budget. That single gesture touched not only the three young dancers that our group was supporting, but it touched each of them too – in some small way, they learnt the power of creating space for others to be. I hope they carry this through with them for their rest of their lives.
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