Artists question new Art in the Park changes

2015-12-16 06:00

A NEW date and venue for Art in the Park 2016 is confirmed. The KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden will play host next year to one of the country’s largest outdoor art exhibits. However, the date and venue changes to the art event - after more than 50 years - have resulted in logistical changes that were not accepted by all stakeholders.

Dumisani Mhlongo, director of the Msunduzi Pietermaritzburg Tourism Association, said the change was based on a survey conducted at last year’s Art in the Park “with recommendations, including venue change and diversification of activities in order to drive foot traffic and to grow the event art sales”.

“Art in the Park has to be repositioned while keeping the best practices of the old venue.”

The KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden has facilities that will “make hosting easier, such as security and ablutions facilities”, said Mhlongo. It also has a braai area which can be used by artists and patrons and can “accommodate space for children’s’ activities to plan this as a family outing”, said Mhlongo.

The 54th Art in the Park will take place from 4 May to 8 May, 2016, and has been moved forward to avoid clashing with the Royal Agricultural Show and Comrades Marathon. The clash of dates previously resulted in people being divided at these events and a lower turnout at Art in the Park. It also created pressure in the accommodation sector in the city. Some artists spoke about their dissatisfaction regarding payment to exhibit, lack of clarity concerning what they will get for paying to exhibit, and new confirmation deadlines.

“With previous shows we knew what we were getting. With the move [to the new venue] we wanted to know what we were getting in terms of the organisation,” said one of the artists who subsequently pulled out of exhibiting and requested to remain anonymous. There was no clear response about what we will be paying for and payment is too low for the infrastructure,” he added.

Mhlongo said that apart from the venue, date and a few logistical changes, the artists received a letter that has been following the same format over the past 50 years.

“They [the artists] know what they are signing up for. There’s nothing different – it’s the same as previous years,” he said.

When asked what the entry fee to exhibit entails and what the artists will get at their stand for this amount, Mhlongo said: “The fee includes what has always been available at the stands at the old venue and it is contained in the [entry] form.”

Artists for next year’s exhibit have registered and the entries have closed. “2016 is bringing new things. We have finalised entries and are now on the next phase of the preparations for the show, and will communicate with entrants as needs arise,” said Mhlongo,

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