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Arts and Culture

Opera School

The University of Cape Town Opera School prides itself on discovering vocal talent amidst impoverished communities that are rich in musical culture, turning the fragile dreams of young singers into real opportunities. For nearly 90 years, the school has been creating opera stars for the world’s stages through the intensive training, coaching and personal supervision offered.

The opera programme at UCT is one of the most expensive courses of study due to the costs of productions, personal voice teachers and coaches. The school is located at the university’s renowned South African College of Music, headed by internationally recognised artists and academics. It offers a rigorous academic programme that meets students at every need, from those who have had formal training to those who lack basic elements of musical theory. The foundation programme is especially suited to bridge such gaps and help students to reach parity with their peers before tackling the Performer’s Diploma in Opera (PDO). Their progress in the PDO is offered further development through the Bachelor’s Degree of Music in Opera and the Postgraduate Studio, with intensified needs of close supervision and coaching. Many of our students have emerged from the comprehensive programme of theory and practice, taking their rightful place among the world’s best. Among these stars are the likes of Pretty Yende, Musa Ngqungwana, Goitsemang Lehobye, Levy Sekgapane, Pumeza Matshikiza, and several others.

Over the past four years, we have been establishing an endowment in order to create a sustainable financial resource. The fundraising goal of the endowment campaign is to raise R20 million so that students receive comprehensive bursaries and the Opera School is able to provide the intensive training necessary for nurturing operatic skill. We have thus far secured R17 million and now seek to close the funding shortfall R3 million.

Baxter Theatre

Producing indigenous and international productions, over the past four decades, the Baxter Theatre Centre at the University of Cape Town has significantly expanded the body of work in South African Theatre. It has given our local artists international exposure, providing a voice and visibility to African themes, apart from creating work for South African directors, producers, actors, technicians and designers.

The diversity of productions staged at the Baxter span dance, drama, opera, music concerts, and comedy showcases, making the Baxter an iconic theatre venue among a wide range of audiences. Developmental theatre work is a unique focus, through arts festivals and workshops that nurture young artists and provide them with a platform to present their work. The Baxter is not funded by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, neither does it qualify for funding from the National Lottery Commission. The university generously allocates The Baxter a grant of approximately one-third of our annual operational expenses. If the arts industry in South Africa is to sustain the excellent work it has already produced, funding support is essential. It is especially crucial now as the Corona Virus pandemic means that the Baxter will not be fully operational again anytime soon. However, when this pandemic is over, the arts will play a significant role in finding meaning, healing and bringing communities together, in celebration of our humanity.

The Baxter has always been the people’s theatre and so, we are appealing to the people to “Buy the Baxter a cup of coffee every month.” In other words, to contribute R30 per month to build future financial sustainability.Join friends of the Baxter Theatre who are supporting the #BaxterCoffeeAngels campaign

Institute for Creative Arts

The national and global significance of the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) is largely attributed to the interdisciplinary nature of the ICA, working across disciplines of music, dance, fine art, drama, creative writing, film and media studies. Inter-disciplinarity is a key theme of the Institute and projects are imbued with innovation, collaboration, and dialogue with urbanism and community. Apart from creating new platforms and mentoring new artists, the ICA maintains strong affiliations with arts projects locally, nationally and internationally, exploring critical themes of decolonisation and transformation and setting new boundaries for imagining new social concepts. The Institute hosts a Graduate Programme (MA and PhD) in Interdisciplinary Arts, Fellowships, Inter-disicplary Conferences (comprises talks and art) on contemporary topics, the Infecting the City Public Art Festival and a Public Spheres Programme, a Public Lecture Series, a Publications and Podcast Initiative and Live Art Programmes that include community workshops, public discussion and the ICA Live Art Festival.

The ICA Live Art Festival is the Institute’s flagship event in that it features students and faculty members from the university, as well as a wide range of invited artists and academics, nationally and internationally. Blurring the fields of art, dance, theatre, music, architecture and literature, the ICA Live Art Festival is widely acknowledged as the leading platform for interdisciplinary and live art in South Africa. Profiling works by artists from Africa and the diaspora, the Festival makes possible new and transformative interactions within the public sphere. The work of the Institute has contributed to the development of researchers, artists and audiences from marginalised communities. In a country where division continues to hamper our institutions and bureaucracies, the ICA fulfils a pressing need for a space where intellectuals and artists from a wide range of backgrounds can come together to experiment with ideas and develop new visions for the creative and performing arts through innovative projects. Our funding shortfall is currently R1.5 million per year.

Irma Stern Museum

For over forty years, the University of Cape Town has housed the Irma Stern art collection at the museum on Cecil Road, Lower Campus. Irma Stern, one of South Africa’s most influential and complex visual artists, made this place her home until she died in 1966. The museum highlights the formal innovations in the art of this pioneering modernist, examines her influence on contemporary art, and explores challenges posed by Stern’s approach to her craft. Stern was an inveterate traveller and discriminating collector. Her varied collections displayed throughout the rooms of her home include Ancient Egyptian and Hellenistic Greek artefacts, 3rd century Indian stone carvings and Chinese ceramics, as well European furniture dating back to the 15th century and, most notably, an extensive collection of African art.

The Irma Stern Museum draws on the arts to inspire, engage and encourage debate through permanent and temporary exhibitions, workshops, events and discussions. A particular focus of the museum is the outreach education initiative. Through on-site tours and online material, the museum supports art teachers in making the work of Irma Stern relevant and exciting to those learners who engage with her work as part of the school curriculum. Additionally, targeted workshops aim to make art meaningful and accessible to learners from poorly resourced communities who do not ordinarily have the opportunity to explore art as a medium of expression.Our fundraising target to sustain these initiatives is estimated at R500 000 per year.

Arabic Studies

Arabic has a long tradition of teaching in South Africa, not only for those who bear a Muslim religious identity but also for those who have an interest in the cultural and religious perspectives associated with the Middle East. In the past century only a few South African universities have offered courses in Arabic studies, but due to the recent changes in the field of language teaching in the country the University of Cape Town is now only one of four such institutions. UCT’s Arabic Section is the only such unit that offers a programme mostly focused on Modern Standard Arabic and contemporary topics.

The importance of this language offering is confirmed by the increase in student enrolment since its inception in 2003, as well as the frequent requests for resources from various companies and organisations outside of the university. The basic costs of the Arabic Section at UCT have thus far been covered through an endowment offered by the Shahmahomed Trust. As we now endeavour to expand the section with more teaching and research capacity, we seek to grow our current endowment. This financial resource will enable us to offer a new post of either lecturer or senior lecturer so that we can offer a Major in Arabic at undergraduate level to more students, as well as develop our postgraduate studies and thus provide the country with an expertise that the job market seems to value. Our aim is to raise R12 million.

Hebrew Studies

Hebrew has been taught continuously at the University of Cape Town since 1896 when the then South African College created a dedicated academic chair in the language. This legacy has all but ended with the recent retirement of staff in the Hebrew Studies Section of the university. Hebrew studies faces the risk of being phased out unless permanent funding is secured to attract new staff and grow the Section into a facility that is able to offer more courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and build our current research capacity. Hebrew Language and Literature serves several purposes.

An encounter with Hebrew culture offers a portal into the modern Middle East. Furthermore language instruction has long provided future teachers with the tools needed to teach the language in the classroom. We seek funding to support positions – at either the lecture or senior lecturer level – that will ensure that UCT continues to offer Hebrew at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level on a permanent basis. The costs of an endowment for a lectureship is calculated at R20 million.

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