The City of Cape Town is recently facing contestation following the proposed allocation of R7.5 million toward the Mayoral Art Collection. As so many are struggling, following the economic knock of the pandemic, and with our national poverty line already being ever prevalent, the initiative is causing controversy.
The money is being potentially allocated to refurbish a section of the City Hall, and then set to be opened up to the public as a gallery.
While our arts and culture sectors have also been badly hit by the pandemic, the question of priorities does come to mind when considering the mass poverty in our province and country.
The funds stem from the Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department’s budget.
According to Herron, he has written to the City manager in quest of a further explanation.
“The R7.57m that Cape Town intends spending on the Mayoral Art Collection is made up of R7m that was meant to be spent in the last financial year, topped up by an additional R570 000 in ‘new’ funds. According to the budget, the R7m couldn’t be spent in the last financial year due to ‘supply constraints’,” Herron notes.
“I was in council for nine years and do not recall the item. I don’t recall that the City ever bought art because the City owns so much art.”
“In normal times, spending R7.5m would raise concern, in this day where people are losing homes and jobs it is just shocking that they are spending so much on art. I challenge anyone to tell me how buying art pieces for the mayoral art collection is more important than the services the City needs to provide and is failing to,” he adds.
The Mayoral committee’s side:
According to Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Zahid Badroodien, the funding is not to do with purchasing art but refurbishing one of the City Hall floors which will open as a gallery as The City is in possession many pieces of art.
“As part of our endeavour to make arts and culture accessible to all residents, and visitors, the City’s Arts and Culture branch undertook this project at City Hall. Any attempt to position it as anything else is most unfortunate,” Badroodien expresses.
Picture: Tayla Gentle, Skubalisto mural