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 Post subject: PACT Ballet shut down at the Pretoria State Theatre, Sou
PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2001 9:07 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 4753
Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
How did South Africa's Pretoria State Theatre, a large, modern centre, with the infrastructure to produce everything from ballet and opera to drama and symphony concerts and six auditoriums, end up closed to the arts?<P>The 1997 South African Arts, Culture and Heritage Calendar painted a glowing picture of dance in SA, announcing:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"South Africa is a country dancing into its future as a new democracy.<BR>Mentioning individual contemporary companies would be invidious as there are so many of them, and each has its own particular quality and approach. Anyone interested in getting down to grassroots, so to speak, could telephone the dance critic on any of the major city newspapers and ask "What's on and what shouldn't I miss?". "<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><BR><a href="http://www.mg.co.za/mg/saarts/dance1.htm" target=blank">more...</a><P><BR>Adrienne Sichel reported to Dance Magazine in the Dec/98 issue on the changes South Africa's new cultural policy was going to bring about by giving money directly to the state theatres instead of to the artists through its five performing arts councils. <P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"The new system requires artists to apply to the newly founded National Arts Council and to the Arts and Culture Trust of the President for project funding. Company infrastructure now has to be sustained through other sources. The problem is that everyone has to share a shrinking funding pie."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><a href="http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m1083/1998_Dec/53280631/p1/article.jhtml?term=" target="blank">more...</a><P><BR>These changes resulted in surprisingly hard times for Pretoria's State Theatre Ballet (Pact) and the theatre's contemporary dance companies.<P>Poor financial managment, which included a secret fund and a pyramid scheme(!), resulted in suspension of operations for the State Theatre and the Performing Arts Council of Transvaal (Pact).<P>According to <a href="http://www.pta-online.co.za/" target="blank">Pretoria Online</a>: <P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"A State Theatre (ST) Secret Fund, created in 1989, is at the core of financial problems now being experienced by the theatre.<P>According to sources at the ST, the money was invested with an investor who allegedly used the money for a pyramid scheme.<P>Apparently not only the State Theatre's investment, but also private investments by ST personnel were lost. Some individuals allegedly lost up to R600,000."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><BR><a href="http://www.pta-online.co.za/pn2000/mar00/n030301.htm" target="blank">more from: Hard Times at State Theatre, March 03, 2000</a> <P><BR>On June 15, 2000 a government press release announced:<BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>". . .the temporary mothballing of the State Theatre in Pretoria. It is not the intention of Cabinet to permanently close the State Theatre. However, the institution will be mothballed for the remainder of the 2000/1 financial year. This will mean the retrenchment of all existing staff. The Minister will take steps to ensure that a sustainable set of programmes and infrastructures are established to take effect in the next financial year."<BR>"A strategy to rent office space in the building and so generate funds to cover security costs is being pursued."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><BR><a href="http://www.dacst.gov.za/speeches/press/jun2000/statetheatre.htm" target="blank">more...</a><P><BR><a href="http://www.pta-online.co.za/" target="blank">Pretoria Online</a>: <BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"The financial woes at Pretoria's State Theatre continued on Friday when financial director, Johan van den Berg, was suddenly suspended.<P>This followed a strongly-worded statement by Minister of Arts, Culture, and Science, Ben Ngubane, on Thursday. In the statement Ngubane criticised a "high risk investment" by the ST, adding that strict measures will be taken to rescue the ST from its financial problems.<P>ST marketing director, Robert Perry, confirmed on Friday that Van den Berg was suspended during a board meeting on Friday morning but denied that the suspension had anything to do with the investment of the ST's so-called "secret fund" money"<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><BR><a href="http://pta-online.co.za/pn2000/mar00/n030302.htm" target="blank">more from: State Theatre's financial boss suspended, March 03, 2000</a><P><BR>And so you may think that the Goverment bailed out the State Theatre. Not exactly...<P><a href="http://www.pta-online.co.za/" target="blank">Pretoria Online</a>: <BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"It may be a sign of the times, but this week Minister Ben Ngubane's Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST) hosted the launch of a multimillion rand DACST-funded crime research centre - barely two weeks after Ngubane announced the mothballing of Pretoria's State Theatre."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><BR><a href="http://pta-online.co.za/pn2000/jun00/n290608.htm" target="blank">more from: The Minister giveth and he taketh away, June 29, 2000</a><P><BR><a href="http://www.pta-online.co.za/" target="blank">Pretoria Online</a>: <BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"According to a press release issued by DACST, the minister believes that it is premature to commit further funding to the cash-strapped theatre, given its "history of management".<P>According to DACST spokesperson, Kimberley Worthington, it is evisioned that the orchestra and ballet company will be retained, albeit in a different format, "so as not to disappear completely".<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><BR><a href="http://pta-online.co.za/pn2000/jun00/n150602.htm" target="blank">more from: All State Theatre staff to be retrenched, June 15, 2000</a><P><BR>This past December Maestro Entertainment helped former director Esther Nasser, and dancers Angela Malan, Karen Beukes and Iain MacDonald produce the traditional Christmas Nutcracker. <BR><a href="http://pta-online.co.za/pn2000/sep00/n120906.htm" target="blank">more from: "New" Nutcracker for State Theatre, September 12, 2000</a><P><BR>But now that the holidays are over, you have to wonder what, if anything, the dancers in Pretoria have to look forward to...<P><p>[This message has been edited by Marie (edited January 09, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: PACT Ballet shut down at the Pretoria State Theatre, Sou
PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2001 10:15 pm 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
From the <A HREF="http://www.suntimes.co.za/" TARGET=_blank>Sunday Times</A>,SA, 30 Jul 2000:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"<B>The story of the performing arts in South Africa reads like a Greek tragedy. Gillian Anstey examines the fatal flaws in the tale</B><P>The State Theatre in Pretoria . . .apartheid's cultural showpiece, sheltered from commerce by hefty state assistance, [did] not survive on its R32-million annual buildingcosts grant, but it managed to almost equal that amount in losses. Its board squandered the money it had stashed away on bad investments. <P>Mark Hawkins [and his Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company], former artistic director of The Playhouse Dance Company, has restructured his company into a profitable blend of commercialism and art. <P><BR>Now the artists wiggle their butts to promote cars or launch conferences, and, with the proceeds, they dance Coppélia and their own works. They've found audiences for both styles.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><BR><a href="http://www.suntimes.co.za/2000/07/30/insight/in03.htm" target="blank">more...</a><P>


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 Post subject: Re: PACT Ballet shut down at the Pretoria State Theatre, Sou
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 2:54 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Marie, many, many thanks for taking the time to research this important story for us. When time permits I'm going to go through the articles in detail, but your edited highlights (or lowlights may be more appropriate for this horror story) has provided me with an overview.


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 Post subject: Re: PACT Ballet shut down at the Pretoria State Theatre, Sou
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 6:19 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2000 12:01 am
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Location: Australia
and another thank you from me, marie, for your painstaking cobbling together of a complex story....which i had somehow missed hearing about anywhere else....<P>as if south africa didn't have enough problems, without the management scandals these allude to!.....i had assumed that the closure MUST be caused by the very understandable need to divert government funds into essential services, like sewerage for poor townships, health care and the like.....<P>how incredible that people were stupid enough - apparently - to give themselves problems they didn't need....<P>i wonder what all those dancers and musicians are doing with themselves now....

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 Post subject: Re: PACT Ballet shut down at the Pretoria State Theatre, Sou
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 11:03 am 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Grace, I too would have thought that monies, necessary for essential services, would preclude funding the arts, but monies were already earmarked for those areas. Unfortunately, *extra* money to clean up this administrative fiasco wasn't forthcoming. <P>As far as I can tell, the reason for that has a lot to do with a backlash against apartheid of which the State Theatre is a symbol. Unfortunately it's the artists that are going to end up paying the price, as they usually do in times of political instability in any country, i.e. the dancers in Russia when the communist system collapsed.<P><p>[This message has been edited by Marie (edited January 10, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: PACT Ballet shut down at the Pretoria State Theatre, Sou
PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2001 6:00 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
What amazes me is how did this story fall below the radar of so many ballet enthusiasts? Why didn't more people know about it?


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