Yearning for the arts

2016-07-26 06:00
The Battswood Art Centre in Wynberg at the time was a favourate spot for many because of the vast activities that were happening there. The centre was moved about 20 years ago to another area and residents say they want another one like it to fill the void that was left by this centre.

The Battswood Art Centre in Wynberg at the time was a favourate spot for many because of the vast activities that were happening there. The centre was moved about 20 years ago to another area and residents say they want another one like it to fill the void that was left by this centre.

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Wynberg residents are pleading for help to establish a recreation centre in their area.

For over two decades, following the relocation of the Battswood Art Centre there has been no recreational hub in the area, residents say. They believe a reacreation centre is vital in bringing the community together, and creating a sense of belonging while nurturing young talent.

Cindy Sasman, a fourth generation Wynberg resident, still remembers growing up in Wynberg and walking to art classes after school at the Battswood Art Centre – the smell of the pastels and paint, the feeling of never being alone and that there was always something to do at the centre.

The Battswood Art Centre, which residents say was “everything to them”, moved to Grassy Park over 20 years ago and was never replaced.

“The recreational centre came to life with a whole lot of different activities that took place there. There was drama, music and dance and visual arts classes. It was used by people from other areas,” says Sasman.

Now residents are lobbying for a new centre to bring back a culture of arts in the area.

Sassman says: “The reason I am asking for a recreational centre is because of my own personal nostalgic reasons, but more importantly it is about community building. If you look at this area at the moment, it’s very diverse. We have people from all walks of life. The art centre would be to allow the community to become connected again. It will be a safe place to go to and meet new people, to bring back the heartbeat of the suburb that was forgotten.

“Not many children today know the feeling that comes from exploring through art. It gives you a sense of self worth, accomplishment and happiness. Children need a place to go hide after school and learn different things.”

Belinda Petersen, principal of Ottery Road Methodist Primary School, says they are in dire need of a recreational centre in the area.

“We need a place where our children can learn about the history of arts as well as practice it. Not having this facility means children don’t have a place to practice. There isn’t much for them. Though we try give art lessons at school, our facility is too small. If we want such services, we have to pay for them,” she says..

Petersen adds that the recreational centre will bring so much more to the area.

“Apart from kids learning arts and adults meeting now and again, it will bring about partnership. It will bring friendship as well. I remember years ago when I used to dance at the centre. It was vibrant – everything was really nice. But now kids don’t have all that,” she says.

Liesl Hartmann, the principal of Frank Joubert Art Centre, was once a principal of the centre after it was moved and says it would be a wonderful thing to have a recreational centre in Wynberg again.

“It was a vibrant place. Kids would come from the surrounding schools and be taught art at the centre. It was really a nice place which brought the community together. It was everything for the people who used it. It brought things to life,” she syas.

Residents suggested to have the Innes Road youth centre be renovated and used as a recreational centre.
“That would be the perfect location for a ‘new’ arts centre. The municipality can renovate it and invest in the Wynberg community the same way that they do with the other areas,” says Sasman.

“This (youth centre) can’t be used as a recreational centre because you can’t have more than one activity happening there at the same time. With the Battswood Art Centre there was a dance studio and a piano room, so people could do a lot of things at the same time. If this (youth centre) can be upgraded, it can bring back the centre that we’ve been longing for for so many years,” concludes Sasman.

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