Imagine 14 City Hall Earlier this year the City Hall had an inspiring makeover that suggested how this strategic venue could function as a vibrant cultural facility
The Cape Town City Hall was, for a long time, established in the minds of most Cape Town citizens as a cultural venue – concert hall aside, it was home to the Central Library from 1979. Then last year the library moved to its slick new space in the Drill Hall, next to the City Hall, leaving more than 2,000 sq metres of unoccupied space in its old premises. This, and the City Hall’s slide into decline since the late 1980s, has provided an opportunity to reimagine and re-position this strategic venue. In the past, various initiatives were mooted to turn the City Hall into a viable cultural facility – none of them however came to fruition. More recently, the Cape Town Partnership has made significant interventions, including lobbying government, funding research, developing a business plan and funding proposals, and proposing relevant agencies and systems for the management and redevelopment of the space.
was to garner support for the City Hall as a dedicated and premier cultural venue for all Capetonians. The city government’s decision to use the venue for the World Cup as a media centre, while placing the outside of the venue iconically against Table Mountain for the FIFA Fan Fest on the Grand Parade, sadly did nothing for the project of reinventing the space as a long term cultural venue. It is again up to the cultural sector to advocate for a more innovative, sustainable long term solution that does not sell the venue out to corporate interests alone or see its reduced to a poorly run municipal facility designated for ad hoc use. Join the Imagine City Hall Facebook group or find out more at www.creativecapetown.net
The Africa Centre’s successful and dynamic renovation and use of the City Hall for the Spier Contemporary, a major South African contemporary art exhibition held from March to May this year, created the impetus for the space to be repositioned for public use. For two months the City Hall was turned into a beautiful environment with more than 20,000 people visiting the exhibition, attending workshops, watching performances and music, shopping at the Fringe Arts pop-up design shop or simply hanging out at the classy cafe in the innovatively remade space. The opportunity arose to reinvigorate the project of reimagining the City Hall with citizen engagement using Facebook and via a letter writing campaign. To that end Imagine City Hall was born as an idea between the Africa Centre, Creative Cape Town and Cape MIC, whose key aim 74
FACING PAGE AND ABOVE Installation views of Spier Contemporary at City Hall FACING PAGE BOTTOM RIGHT The Fringe Arts pop-up store