'No local artists involved in festival'
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Local artists say the inaugural International Public Art Festival (Ipaf) held in Salt River will contribute to the gentrification of the historic community, with no local artists involved and the area being portrayed as a derelict neighbourhood in need of help.
However, festival organisers, NGO Baz- Art, say that the community and authorities were thoroughly consulted and all art done with their approval, in an effort to bring art to the community and put South African public art on the map globally. Acclaimed artists, including Mak1one, will participate.
“By bringing internationally recognised art to the streets of Salt River, Ipaf will rejuvenate houses, buildings, schools and businesses - bringing renewed pride, morale, hope and income to residents.
“We believe that Ipaf will perfectly unite and inspire this cosmopolitan mixture of residents and new business opportunities. After the recent revamps of the Pals Building, part of the Salt River Village, and other initiatives, we feel that the time has come for Salt River to enter a brighter new era,” the festival website reads.
Artist Quasiem Gamiet said: “I received a message from a friend about an International Street Art Festival in my neighbourhood. I was pretty shocked and excited. After seven years of condemnation (of graffiti), now it’s finally being celebrated. I quickly reached out to the organisers to ask if I could get involved."
He later read the motivation for the event, and decided to not be involved. Gamiet said Salt River was the last community where gentrification has not been hit as hard as other areas within the CBD, but this may not be the case for long.
Local artist Nadia Fisher said: “I saw a write-up about the motivation for choosing Salt River. The description of Salt River was of a dodgy, run-down neighbourhood that needed saving. They spoke about gentrification as if it was a positive thing,” she said.
After being invited to participate, Fisher decided she would not be involved. “I’ve painted in Salt River for many years. Living in an area like this, they are well educated about art,” she said.
Baz-Art founder and funder Sebastien Charrieras said homeowners and their neighbours, the neighbourhood watch, shopkeepers, teachers and other representatives of the community had all been consulted. He said the project aimed to emphasise the responsibility of street artists towards those in the communities in which they work.
It also intends bringing art to the children in the community, through workshops at schools, and provide a platform for talented local artists to exhibit their work. He said there were 35 artists participating, with about 75% of them local, and even locally made food had been procured for the festival.
Curator Chantel Woodman said: “Cape Town is a colourful, creative city and why not contribute to that colour. Kids are excited to be involved in the project, it is a positive initiative with only positive intentions."
She said the project was working against gentrification.