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New Joburg studios to unleash African talent

When City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Herman Mashaba assumed office soon after August 3 local government elections, he announced that inner city regeneration would be his administration’s top priority.

This week the City partnered with private stakeholders to unveil new state-of-the-art studios in the heart of downtown Johannesburg.

The new Sky Rink Studios form part of a bigger and multibillion-rand vision to rejuvenate the inner city, including restoring the iconic Carlton Centre precinct to its former glory. The studios seek to provide African film producers and actors with the platform to tell powerful African stories.

Speaking during the star-studded launch on Thursday October 28, Ravi Naidoo, the City of Johannesburg’s Executive Director of Economic Development, said the City was delighted with the partnership it had entered into with Sky Rink Studios.

“This day marks yet another important milestone in our city. It’s a no-brainer why the City of Johannesburg is supporting this initiative,” said Naidoo. He said people came to Johannesburg because “it’s a place of golden opportunities”.

Naidoo said there were a lot of changes taking place in the inner city. He said after spending more than R14-billion to revitalise the inner city over the past 10 years, the City was now planning to invest R120-billion in the rejuvenation and redevelopment of the Urban Development Zone (UDZ), which includes the inner city and surrounding areas, over the next few years.

Naidoo applauded the founders of Sky Rink Studios “for their great spirit of entrepreneurship”. He said the studios would result in filmmakers from around the world descending on Johannesburg, sparking a return of local businesses to the inner city.

“In the old days Carlton Centre was the place to be. We want to bring back that vibrancy,” said Naidoo, who added that the Sky Rink Studios project had created 140 jobs.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said the birth of the studios marked an important day in the television production industry.

“This film studio is about claiming our culture and stories; it’s also about claiming this beautiful city and telling our stories the best way he know how and creating employment opportunities,” said Minister Patel.

He said the new addition would see investors flocking to Johannesburg and turning it into an economic hub that would allow businesses, whether big or small, to thrive.

Sky Rink Executive Chairman Frank Mohapi said it had not been an easy journey for him and his partners – Mpho Mtsweni and Marvin Mathibe.

“It has been a difficult three years, which saw us use every cent we had to achieve this dream. We’re truly thankful to the City of Johannesburg’s Economic Development Department. They have been great partners from day one,” said Mohapi.

Veteran actor Jerry Mofokeng said the studios would give African filmmakers the opportunity to tell African stories in the best way they could.

“This is a world-class facility. It truly signifies the start of something great,” concluded Mofokeng.