Arts industry calls closure of Fugard Theatre a devastating blow
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Cape Town - Those within the arts have called the closure of the treasured Fugard Theatre a devastating blow to an industry already hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Fugard Theatre celebrated its 10-year anniversary when the Covid-19 pandemic descended on South Africa. Its founder, Eric Abraham, announced in a statement across social media platforms the closure with immediate effect, on Tuesday.
“We are not persuaded that it will be Covid-19 safe or financially viable to reopen as a theatre in the foreseeable future. The theatre will be handed back to the owner of the freehold of the building – the board of the District 6 Museum – as a working theatre and we hope that they will be able to use it for the benefit of the museum and the District 6 community.”
The 320-seater theatre is within the historic Sacks Futeran building in District Six, with the renovated Congregational Church Hall in Caledon Street as its entrance. The theatre was named after renowned South African playwright of more than 30 plays, Athol Fugard.
“For over 50 years he has written soul-searing plays with roles for all South Africans which have moved audiences in South Africa and around the world to laughter and tears as they reflected the racism, barbarity and inhumanity of apartheid,” read the Fugard Theatre website.
The Baxter Theatre marketing manager, Fahiem Stellenboom, said the closure of the Fugard Theatre and any other theatre is a devastating blow for the arts, especially during such a difficult time.
“The more theatres there are, the more the arts and entertainment – fundamental to the well-being of any society – can thrive,” said Stellenboom. “There can be denying that many sectors have battled to survive over the past year, and none more so than the arts and hospitality sectors.”
Cultural Affairs and Sports MEC Anroux Marais said the department was saddened by the news of the closure.
“It’s a devastating sign of just how badly the arts industry has been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic over the last year, and a clear indication that more needs to be done to keep it afloat over the year ahead.”