Share this article

Spring is around the corner, which means the annual Arts Alive International Festival is also on the way. And with loads of entertainment lined up, there is no excuse not to get out.
START gearing up for the annual event that showcases everything from visual art to music, from dance to theatre, and everything in-between.

Don MatteraPoet Don Mattera to open Arts Alive 2011With more than 30 music events, the annual Joburg Arts Alive International Festival will be pulsing to a hot beat during September.
Running from 1 to 25 September, this year’s Arts Alive programme has a great diversity, covering music, theatre, dance, comedy, visual arts, spoken word, film and the “festivals within a festival” for which Arts Alive has become known.

Launched on 20 July at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, the programme, with its colourful and upbeat line-up, was shown on a video presentation to an audience of media, City officials and musicians. Arts Alive is the City’s flagship festival that runs throughout September each year. It is undertaken by the City’s directorate of arts, culture and heritage, along with other partnering organisations.

Steven Sack, the head of the directorate, says: “We want everyone in the city to take advantage of a programme that, with 58 performances, really has something for everyone – a great deal of it for free.

“It’s also a really easy way for Joburgers to explore a different part of the city, much in the way many did during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. This is a challenge to our residents to get out and about, come September,” he adds.

“Diversity is the key to Johannesburg’s success as a city in so many ways … In creating the Arts Alive programme this year, the team at Zanusi has delivered on that. When we say there is something for everyone this year, there really is – both in terms of the arts genres on offer and the pricing, with many of the events open to the public at no cost, like the annual Jazz on the Lake,” Sacks points out.

Dance programmeAction-packed dance programmeHis words are echoed by Vanessa Perumal, the festival’s public relations officer: “Joburgers [will] have the chance to see at least one live show (or many more) and explore different areas of their world-class African city with the just-released 2011 Joburg Arts Alive International Festival programme.”
She says that Arts Alive “has been giving Joburg’s residents the gift of South Africa’s biggest urban arts festival for 19 years”.

Music plays a central role in this year’s programme, which will open on 1 September at The Fringe in the Joburg Theatre Complex.

It will open with a specially commissioned work by poet Don Mattera and musician Pops Mohamed, which will have its worldwide debut on the night. It will be followed by a Season of Simplicity by Agulhas Theatre Works.

Africa Unites takes place on 2 September, in association with Moshito. It features artists such as Nigerian singer-songwriter, Asa, and Kenyan musician, Eric Wainana.

The next big event is the annual event Jazz on the Lake, taking place on 4 September at the Zoo Lake, as always. This free concert is a gift to Joburgers, with a jam packed line-up that will include Xoliswa Dlamini, Melanie Scholtz, Watershed, Rajasthan Rocks from India, 340ml, Victor Ntoni and Asa.

The Arts Alive International Festival 2011 will see a record number of local and international artists perform at various venues in Joburg. Watch a video of the launch of the festival programme.
Another must-see is the Eldos Jazz Festival on 25 September at Kremetert Park in Eldorado Park. Jamaican reggae artists Queen Ifrica and Tony Rebel will perform, along with several South African musicians such as Allou April, Dr Victor, Prince Lengoasa and Zarcia Zacheus.

Throughout the Joburg Arts Alive International Festival, there will also be an abundance of opportunities to witness a range of world-class musicians from other countries, including Brazil, China, Cuba, France, India, Jamaica, Switzerland, Taiwan, Spain, Portugal, the US and the UK.

Urban arts
Arts Alive is the biggest urban arts festival in the country. It plays a key role in unifying the residents of Joburg, as well as building bridges with the outside world through partnerships with the governments of many countries.

Xoliswa DlaminiXoliswa Dlamini will headline Jazz on the Lake“We are very mindful of the role the arts can play in building tolerance and bridges between people and Arts Alive plays a very important role in that regard,” says Sack. “In addition, international collaborations and partnerships enable valuable inter- and intra-cultural dialogue that can serve as a dynamic barometer of contemporary thought in the global creative community.
“At the heart of this amazing festival of the arts, though, is a desire to give the residents of the city of Joburg great entertainment and access to the arts in a very easy way. We hope our residents will take up the challenge to see at least one of close to 60 performances on offer in all parts of this great city of ours,” he says.

The Mandela Theatre, in the Joburg Theatre Complex, will play a central role in the festival. Here, the Indian Shared History Festival will take place. Brazilian singer Teresa Cristina will also bring to the theatre her sultry samba sounds on 7 September, in celebration of the Brazilian national day.

Performing alongside her will be the Afro-Brazilian group, Napalma, supported by African Synergy.

Then, the Gansu Ethnic Song and Dance Troupe will perform at The Mandela Theatre from 14 to 17 September, in partnership with the Chinese ministry of culture. It will feature artists from Tibet, Hui, Mongol, Dongxiang, Yugu and Manchu groups.

Cuban pianist and composer Luis Lugo is a leading interpreter of classical and Cuban music. He will play on The Mandela stage on 13 September. On the following day, it will be the turn of Portugal. The quartet Deolinda will showcase their new generation fado – described by critics as funny, ironic, beautifully poetic and decidedly hip.

Monday Blues
There will also be several ongoing music nights, including Monday Blues on 5, 12 and 19 September at at The Zone in Rosebank. It will also be celebrating its 20th anniversary by showcasing talent such as Sliq Angel, LoveGlori, Ntsiki Mazwai, Joy of Jozi, the Fridge and National Arts Festival Ovation winners, The Soul.

Rob van VuurenComedian Rob van VuurenReggae will take to the stage at Bassline on 8, 15 and 22 September with headline acts, Queen Ifrica and Tony Rebel from Montego Bay in Jamaica at the final reggae night. The African Strom Sound System’s popular reggae night will be hosted by Admiral and Jahseed, with reggae action till the early hours of the morning on all three nights.
The Arts Alive closing ceremony on 25 September at The Mandela stage will include The Fall and Rise of the Phoenix, a new instrumental theatre in motion piece from the award-winning American company, Spirit of America.

It is having its world premiere at Arts Alive, and runs from 21 to 25 September.

The annual Joburg Arts Alive International Festival plays a key role in fulfilling many of the City of Joburg’s key mandates. One of these is job creation. In 2010, 65 000 people attended the festival and 500 artists benefited from employment, with a further 200 jobs created in associated industries.

Other benefits include the development of the arts through an inclusive programme that reaches into all seven regions of the city.

To make this even easier, the City now has better public transport infrastructure, including Rea Vaya, and ease of access to different parts of the city – all seven regions of which feature Arts Alive events.

Related stories:

Bottle top mosaic at festival
Lots to do in Joburg
Book explores inner city
Taking ballet to the kasi