Good Hope Centre: film crew moves in
Cape Town - Less than a month after the City of Cape Town put a hold on negotiations for a long-term lease deal involving the Good Hope Centre, a film studio has set up shop in the building preparing to shoot a documentary.
Early last month, the Cape Malay Choir Board, the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu), the Bo-Kaap Civic Association and the District 6 Working Committee launched the RAAK WYS! Campaign to oppose the city council’s plan to lease the building, saying it interfered with cultural activities traditionally held at the venue.
The group said the Good Hope Centre should be reserved for the use of the people of the city, and should not be leased to an international film company, as had been reported.
The organisations said they were promised public participation by Mayco member for tourism, events and economic development Garreth Bloor and executive director of tourism, events and marketing, Anton Groenewald, who resigned in July over the Cape Town Cup fiasco.
The Cape Argus reported that the city council had agreed to hold off on negotiations and open public engagement on the future of the Good Hope Centre.
But, when the Cape Argus visited the Good Hope Centre on Monday, it was a hive of activity, with a film crew creating sets for a four-part documentary series which tracks the discovery of Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun’s tomb.
The crew had reportedly been on set since last Monday.
Members of the crew refused to speak to the Cape Argus, saying they had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the city council and could not divulge any details regarding the production or its cast members.
Signs and posters put up by the film company, however, revealed the miniseries was set to be filmed later this year.
When asked by the Cape Argus whether or not the film company had signed a lease agreement to use the premises, Bloor said: “No lease agreement had been entered to date.
“There is no lease agreement in place. It is being used on a temporary basis until December 2015.
“The lease agreement process is on hold until further notice and, once the process is reactivated, the city will conduct a public participation process based on the Municipal Assets Transfer Regulations.”
He added that vendors like the Cape Malay Choir Board and Sactwu were given “more than four months” notice to look for alternative venues before the city council decided to lease the centre in February.
Bloor confirmed that the permanent occupation of the building was not yet approved by the city council and the lease agreement process was on hold until further notice.
The explanation by Bloor that the film company will be using the Good Hope Centre for a limited time has been dismissed by the group of civic organisations behind the RAAK WYS! campaign.
Sactwu spokesman Fachmy Abrahams said: “The city promised us public participation before the building would be occupied. It is clear that the city never wanted to consult with the public from the start.”
Cape Malay Choir spokesman Shafick April said: “We are not happy about it. It feels as though the city wants to get us out of the district area. We had leased the centre since it first opened decades ago.”
In a statement released earlier this year, the city council revealed it would cost some R16 million to repair existing damage to the Good Hope Centre, and that the land was valued at an estimated R145m.
Bloor was then quoted as saying the venue ran at a R2m annual loss: “Currently, it costs more than R5m per annum to operate, while income is less than R3m per annum.
“A number of other city facilities are available to fulfil the functions of the majority of activities that take place at the Good Hope Centre.”
Bloor said all three of the city council’s existing film studio venues were fully booked for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.