Lack of income generation threatens District Six Museum’s survival

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stablished in 1994, District Six Museum is a remembrance for the District Six community and others displaced by apartheid group areas act and forced removals. (Paul Grendon, District Six Museum)
stablished in 1994, District Six Museum is a remembrance for the District Six community and others displaced by apartheid group areas act and forced removals. (Paul Grendon, District Six Museum)
  • Without interruptions, District Six Museum hosts approximately 69 000 self-guided visitors and 7 500 guided visitors per annum.
  • This target has become impossible to reach since the country went under lockdown in March 2020. 
  • The museum is calling on the public to make donations valued at their entrance fees in order to keep the museum going. 


Like other institutions in the cultural and tourism sector, District Six Museum and its 15 staff members are feeling the financial impact of a lockdown that put a halt to their income. 

Established in 1994, District Six Museum is a remembrance for the District Six community and others displaced by apartheid group areas act and forced removals. Through exhibitions, tours and education programmes, the last 25 years have seen the museum work to expand histories and correct colonial leaning accounts of life in Cape Town. 

In a statement to the public, District Six Museum’s acting director, Chrischené Julius said: 

“Our country is moving into the next phase of its management of the pandemic, and as we prepare to reopen, our biggest challenge is not only ensuring the safety of our 15 staff members, but also ensuring the sustainability of our organisation.”

As an independent establishment, the museum covers its operational expenses (including staff salaries and administrative costs) with the money made from feet coming through the door. Speaking to Arts24, Julius says as it stands, these monthly operational costs come up “in the region of R380 000 a month”. 

Without interruptions, District Six Museum hosts approximately 69 000 self-guided visitors and 7 500 guided visitors per annum. With the museum’s entrance fee being R50 and the guided visit costing R110, self guided tours bring in approximately R3.4 million while guided ones make R825 000.

In addition to this, District Six Museum makes its money by conducting over 1000 customised learning programmes with local and international schools and universities. This target became impossible to reach when the country went under lockdown in March 2020. 

When calls were made for institutions to apply for relief funding, Julius tells Arts24 that District Six Museum applied for the tourism relief fund, the lottery relief fund as well as the provincial relief fund for museums. In addition to being “rejected for the lottery relief fund”, the museum has written an appeal to both the provincial and national departments of arts and culture because they are yet to receive communication from them about financial relief. 

With regards to salaries Julius says District Six Museum is making use of what a lot of organisations have had to rely on “the UIF Covid relief fund that has been paying our staff the minimum”.

Without funding the museum is urgently asking for the public’s financial support and solidarity. 

To make this possible, the museum is asking the public to consider supporting them through monthly or once off donations valued at the museum’s entrance fee or guided visits.

While the sector has been giving allowance to operate during level two of lockdown, they do not foresee an increased number of visits for the next six months. “We’re basing it on the fact that the travel restrictions on international visitors hasn’t been lifted. The indication that we’ve received from the tourism department is that the possibility of that lifting is only in January 2021,” adds Julius. 

District Six Museum will follow lockdown restriction guidelines as they are implemented. For more information on the current state of the District Six Museum, click here.   



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