Vibrant theatre requires independence

Wednesday, 28 August, 2002 - 23:00

Victory Sonqoba Theatre Company: Gauteng Community theatre plays an important role in popular education and social change. During the apartheid era and years of violence, community theatre catalyze

Victory Sonqoba Theatre Company: Gauteng

Community theatre plays an important role in popular education and social change. During the apartheid era and years of violence, community theatre catalyzed the dialogue necessary for healing and constructive social change. For many years, community theatre has depended on donor support from international foundations. The post-election era has witnessed donors shifting their focus to countries still trapped in turmoil and conflict. This has compelled community theatre practitioners to depend on the minimal government funding.

This has been a huge blow to many community theatre practitioners who can no longer provide their valuable work due to the lack of funds.

With this in mind, the Victory Sonqoba Theatre Company is launching the Community Theatre Stokvel Initiative. Its objectives are:

· To promote financial independence for community theatre groups.
· To promote appreciation of musical theatre at the grassroots level.
· To build a stable community theatre audiences.
· To promote cultural tourism through community theatre.

To this end, the Stokvel is generating income on several levels. Firstly, it has established itself as a membership organisation - charging R2000 as a joining fee. This revenue is deposited into the Trust Account for the Stokvel. Secondly, the membership charges a compulsory monthly fee, which rotates with events. When a member is performing, all member groups pay R1000 each. While R500 is deposited into the trust account, the remaining funds are used at the discretion of the host. Additionally, each member is responsible for selling 20 tickets (at R20 apiece), thereby guaranteeing an audience. The Stokvel provides the host with media and marketing. For example, it has established a partnership with two radio stations, Jozi FM and Alex FM. Both stations host interviews prior to the events.

In addition, the Stokvel has developed a strategic partnership with tour operators that specialize in township tours. The operators charge tourists R100 a piece to watch a Stokvel performance and enjoy a buffet of African dishes. All ticket sales are deposited into the Trust Account.

On its way to solidifying its own self-reliance, the first stokvel is designing a coordinating committee, which will be responsible for setting up stokvels in all nine South African provinces in support of a sustainable network of community theatre groups.

 

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