Inside the District Six Museum. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Inside the District Six Museum. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

District Six Museum in urgent need of public support to stay afloat

By Francesca Villette Time of article published Sep 7, 2020

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Cape Town - As a space for community activism and storytelling over the past 25 years, the District Six Museum is in dire need of the public’s support to stay afloat.

Having gone from hosting over 69 000 self-guided visits and over 7 500 guided visits, to zero visitors since the announcement of the lockdown in March, museum acting director Chrischené Julius said their biggest challenge was ensuring the safety of their 15 staff members, and ensuring the sustainability of the organisation.

The museum’s current monthly operational costs are R383 000.

“Like many institutions across the private and public sectors, we are feeling the dire impact of the closure of the cultural and tourism industries and the subsequent restrictions that came with the lockdown,” Julius said in a statement.

“While we may have gone to lockdown level 2, we do not foresee increasing visitor numbers in the next six months.

“For 25 years the museum has been a space for community activism and storytelling. Our exhibitions on the life of District Six, our archive of oral histories and our groundbreaking education work has always been driven by creative engagement with our community of ex-residents, as well as local and international partners and funders,” she said.

Julius said they applied for fund relief from the province, but did not qualify to receive it.

They have also written an appeal for help to both the provincial and national departments of arts and culture. Julius said they were waiting to hear from both.

“The museum covers its operational expenses, which includes staff salaries and administrative costs, through the income generated by feet through the door. In addition to our guided and self-guided visits, we have conducted over 1 000 customised programmes with local and international schools and universities. As an independent museum, these activities are the bedrock for ensuring that we cover our costs,” she said.

Stacy McLean, spokesperson for Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Anroux Marais, said yesterday that the department had received the museum’s application for Covid-19 relief funding, along with several other museums across the province.

“The department is in the process of finalising the process and the District Six Museum will be notified of the outcome shortly,” McLean said.

The national Department of Arts and Culture did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

The museum has appealed to the public to make a monthly donation of R50 – the value of an entrance fee; or a once-off donation of R110 – the value of a guided visit.

Larger once-off donations are welcome.

Donations can be made to: EFTStandard Bank Account no: 070 293 686 Branch code: 020 909

Swift code: SBZ AZA JJ

[email protected]

Cape Times

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