For a number of years, people with nowhere else to go have called the old circus in Observatory home. After several disagreements from residents over the tenants, the City has decided to proceed with eviction.

Now, some Observatory residents and supporters from other parts of Cape Town are urging the City to reconsider and arrange a rental agreement instead.

“We call on the City of Cape Town to halt current attempts to evict residents on the property at 2 Willow Road in Observatory and enter into negotiations with the Observatory Civic Association and the Willow Arts Collective towards leasing the old circus school land for this innovative community-driven project,” reads a petition addressed to Executive Mayor Dan Plato and other Mayco Members.

The petition calls on the community to support the initiative to oppose the eviction of people staying at the circus school and support the ‘Willow Arts Collective’ that aims to uplift and help those who call the Observatory circus home.

“We only have until Monday, August 15, 2020 to make our voices heard and show them that the community supports this great grassroots development initiative and opposes the senseless eviction of the people behind this important project,” reads the petition.

What is the Willow Arts Collective?

The Willow Arts Collective (WAC) is an innovative community project based in the Hartleyvale Sports Precinct in Observatory.

The initiative is led by residents of the property and has the support of a number of organisations in the area. As part of the initiative, WAC has turned parts of the neglected land near the old circus school into an urban vegetable garden to provide food for those in need.

The long term goal of the initiative is to purchase the City of Cape Town-owned property (on ERF 28174 and 28181), formerly known as the South African National Circus, and to transform it into the first multi-use centre for heritage, arts, recreation and sustainable living in the Southern Suburbs.

According to the petition, the following forms part of the transformative agenda for the area under the Collective:

– An Observatory Heritage Centre for Culture and the Arts with talks, educational workshops, music and performances on offer
– A urban vegetable farm focusing on heritage and education
– The only urban vegetable farm and permaculture initiative in Observatory focused on heritage and education
– A farmers market open on weekends to sell crafts, food and other locally made goods
– A restaurant offering brunch and lunch to residents in the area
– A recreation centre for the Observatory Chess Club and other alternative sports

With the above mentioned efforts and many more to come in future, the WAC aims to reverse negative effects that have taken place in the suburb since lockdown and before. The Collective aims to offer a safe space that uplifts, accepts and supports those in need in the area while ringing true to the diversity of the suburb.

You can sign the petition here and find out more about the WAC here.

Picture: WAC

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