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Thursday, September 3, 2015


(Bongani Tembe, Commissioner-General of the SA-UK Seasons, who is also the CEO and Artistic Director of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra)

The SA Season in the UK, part of the SA UK Season 2014 & 2015 is a cultural exchange partnership by South Africa and the United Kingdom.

“Connecting new generations of creative professionals and audiences in SA and the UK while fostering skills transfer and development, sharing expertise and innovation in developing the creative careers of young people, the SA-UK Season partnership not only strengthens cross-cultural initiatives in South Africa and the UK, but showcases the younger generation’s talent and provides them a platform to shine,” says Bongani Tembe, Commissioner-General of the SA-UK Seasons.

A commitment to strengthen cultural ties between South Africa and the UK, the SA-UK Seasons commenced in January 2014 and will conclude in December 2015. The SA Season in the UK kicked off in 2014 with a bang at The Edinburgh International Festival with three major local works on its programme: Inala, a dance piece which incorporated South Africa’s internationally acclaimed Ladysmith Black Mambazo; Ubu and the Truth Commission, a critically applauded theatrical multimedia production by Handspring Puppet Company directed by William Kentridge which highlighted the atrocities of apartheid; and Exhibit B by Brett Bailey of Third World Bunfight, the second instalment of the Exhibit series.

The projects were successful with audiences and critics alike. While Ubu and Truth Commission contributed significantly to the festival talks and discussions, Exhibit B sparked discussion on the role of art in examining challenging aspects of relationships between different races, while Inala sold out performances.

South Africa at 20: The Freedom Tour at the Edinburgh International Film Festival exposed the UK audience to SA cinema, with 25 films in 47 venues focused within the context of South Africa’s 20th Anniversary of Democracy. Hear Me Move and Four Corners were both selected by UK film distributors for release in 2015. This success prompted a mini-Season back in SA in April 2015, with some of the titles being screened at The Bioscope in Johannesburg and The Labia in Cape Town.

AFROVIBES 2014, in its third edition, featured 44 South African artists’ work over a four-week period across 17 venues throughout the UK. From October 13 to November 8 2014 these artists connected with their UK counterparts. The works they created were displayed throughout the UK giving local audiences a chance to engage with the South African culture and the wider political issues through debate, workshops and master classes.

Jazz pianist Bokani Dyer, legendary South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo, and jazz trumpeter Claude Deppa featured and showcased Mzansi’s diverse and rich musical content in sell-out shows at the EFG London Jazz Festival 2014. This year will see the great ladies of South African jazz, Sibongile Khumalo and Gloria Bosman bring the stage to life.

The 2015 Season started the year with some of South Africa’s emerging fashion designers exhibiting alongside those of 30 other countries at the International Fashion Showcase in London. The talented designers achieved second place for Best Exhibition, while Laduma went on to receive a Best Designer special mention at the London Fashion Week.

Award-winning South African a cappella group, The Soil, selected by the Royal Family, represented South Africa at the Commonwealth Day Celebration event in front of a 2,000-strong international audience. The band’s nostalgic performance has since resulted in a future collaboration with digital artist Nat Jones to develop the visual dimension of their performance. They are also in discussion with Serious, the major world music presenter, about international representation.

Seven home-brewed musicians – Jeremy Loops, Al Bairre, Okmalumkoolkat, Yorke, The Accidentals, Thor Rixon, and P.H Fat – represented SA’s local music flavour alongside 400 other international live acts at The Great Escape Festival, a music extravaganza that showcases emerging artists from all over the world in Brighton, at the Spiegeltent and Prince Albert. Jeremy Loops has since been extended the opportunity to perform at the Wilderness and Somersault Festivals in the UK.

With only four months to go before the Season ends, there are still exciting projects on the horizon. These include at the beginning of September, the Dirt Road – a theatre project in Essex, UBU and the Truth Commission by William Kentridge, On Mass – a jazz project with Roundhouse involving hundreds of young musicians around the world and the second edition of South Africa’s participation at the EFG London Jazz Festival featuring South Africa’s grand ladies of jazz – Sibongile Khumalo and Gloria Bosman.

“We are grateful to the South African culture that God has endowed our people with and that as a nation we can be proud of the art and talent already showcased in the UK. Like the rainbow nation that we are known to be, our 2014 & 2015 projects have thus far truly displayed our diversity,” concludes, the Chair of the SA-UK Seasons, Ambassador Samuel Kotane.