Cape Town will play host to South Africa's first International Public Art Festival (IPAF) from 10-20 February, bringing art and art lovers out of the galleries and onto the streets.
The IPAF is just one part of the mission of newly set up NPO Baz-Art to use art to brighten people’s lives in every way. The project goes beyond showcasing existing work to creating new work, making neighbourhoods more beautiful and safer, teaching children how to be creative and stimulating new businesses and creating jobs.
In a nutshell the aim is to harness the power and creativity of art to improve people’s lives.
Creating and showcasing public art
The 10-day festival – which will be dedicated to teaching, creating and showcasing public art – will be the launch pad for various long-term projects. Children will be given art classes, neighbourhoods will be cleaned up and enhanced by large, well-maintained murals, unemployed people will be given training and opportunities and entrepreneurs will be supported as they set up spin-off businesses such as food stalls or galleries.
Baz Art is the love child, so to speak, of inspiration and relationships that developed around another business. During the process of creating, marketing and selling a craft beer, the founders of Baz Art say their eyes were opened to the power of art.
The founders, Alexandre Tilmans and Sebastien Charrieras, decided to throw the combined force of their skills, experience and passion into a project designed to uplift artists while transforming the communities around them and helping South African public art claim its rightful position in the global art world.
There is no shortage of talent, and local and global interest is piqued, yet there is no unifying international event that expresses and showcases the rich history, creativity, skills, diversity and style of South Africa’s public artists. IPAF2017 aims to fill that gap. The festival is designed with three goals in mind:
To position Cape Town as a global hub in the art world.
To showcase, both locally and internationally, the work of South African artists including artwork created under the collaboration between Baz-Art and communities throughout the year.
To uplift communities and make their neighbourhoods more beautiful, happier, safer and more inspiring places to live.
An initial budget of R3m has been created for the festival, which will be a celebration and a launch pad for various future projects that will ensure that public art has a respected place in the art world and in society in general.
The inaugural festival is timed to fall between two prominent art events, the Cape Town Art Fair and That Art Fair. Attendees and artists from both events will be encouraged to participate in IPAF, which will offer different art and inspiration from what is on offer at the more traditional art events.
Baz-Art has the support of the local communities and authorities as well as interest expressed by local artists Mak1one, Mr Migo, Zola and Mohamed “Mo” Hassan.
The inaugural festival will be focused on the district of Salt River, one of the communities where Baz-Art is developing educational and economic activities to encourage inclusive community building and respect for the arts.
Each contributing artist will be given a space in Salt River to decorate as they choose. The murals will beautify the area, adding to Salt River’s unique character, and bring pride to individuals behind the stories and those depicted in them.
Know Hope The Abstract Cause
A number of other activities are planned for the festival. There will be live painting by street artists, music, tattooing, face painting and street food. The festival will also be the launch pad of a programme of street tours. Local people will be trained to take guided tours of the neighbourhood focusing on public art.
Art classes at schools
A second key part of Baz Art’s work, to be officially launched during IPAF2017, is art classes for school children. An initial budget of R1.2m has been earmarked to pay for weekly art classes at the first group of eight schools. Local artists will give classes and the cost of materials will be covered by funders.
Beyond education, Baz Art will initiate a number of other plans and partnerships to utilise public art to enhance areas through visual and moral upliftment, as well as creating direct employment and income.
Working with communities, schools, businesses and a wide variety of other organisations, Baz Art aims to help create an environment where art is used to improve people’s physical and social environments. Efforts will be focused on Salt River to start with but the expectation is that these will soon show their value and be expanded.
Focus on Africa
As much as this work will be focused on local communities and artists, particularly during the festival, a flagship of Baz Art’s mission is to make Africa, starting with South Africa, an international hub for art. Baz Art will work with existing art fairs and events and create new partnerships with players around the world to build Africa’s profile.
There is a dedicated budget for South African artists to travel and take up fellowships and residencies abroad, as well as a pan-European travelling exhibition of work by South African street artists designed to generate cross-cultural communication, exchanges and other opportunities.
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