State Theatre 'to make money'

2000-08-08 11:48

Pretoria - A commercially geared entertainment company, Maestro Entertainment Holdings, has signed a contract with the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST), to lease the opera and drama theatres at the State Theatre.

Executive chairman, Chris Lodewyk, said that only commercially viable productions will be staged at the theatres.

Lodewyk, who hails from the Western Cape, has been involved in commercial theatre for about 15 years.

He said that he is a "born and bred" theatre person, but has studied the sound business principals of commercial theatre in London and on Broadway.

Back home, he established Maestro Entertainment Holdings, but said it took him two years to convince the business sector that there was money to be made from the arts, and that they should invest in the company.

With investments secured, Maestro plans to get listed on the JSE by June next year.

The main shareholder and executive director in Maestro is Cape Town businessman, Raziek Rajah.

Saths Cooper, psychologist and former Black Consciousness strategist and head of Azapo, is non-executive director. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Soweto String Quartet and Soweto Dance Company.

Lodewyk said that the agreement was signed on condition that Maestro will not be prescribed to as to what kind of shows they'll put on. The objective is to make money, and if that means putting on a ballet, it will be a ballet.

Asked about the lack of transformation having been one of DACST objections against the previous board, Lodewyk said that audiences may well expect to see proven financially successful "ethnic" theatre, like Ipi Tombi, "but no experimental theatre".

Shows planned for this year are the popular comedy, Defending the Caveman with Tim Plewman and directed by Rex Garner, and Afrikaans musical, Antjie Somers, and a ballet, possibly The Nutcracker, for which former members of the State Theatre Ballet Company have already been offered a three month contract. - DigiNews