Local theatres hesitant to reopen

Alex Fokkens

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an ease of level 3 restrictions in June and since then personal care professionals began operating and restaurants reopened for sit-down service. However, local theatres that have also been given the green light, have chosen to stay closed.

According to CEO of the Free State Symphony Orchestra (FSSO), Alexander Fokkens, the major issue that arts organisations face while the pandemic continues is the safety of both audiences and artists. It is because of this that the FSSO has opted not to hold events yet, despite the government’s go ahead. “The biggest problem with Covid-19 is that we are large groups of people, so getting spaces where the audience and orchestra are safe is the ultimate priority.

Peter Pedlar

This is tricky at the moment because none of us are sure when we’ll get to the point when people will feel 100% safe again,” he explained. “The hope is that towards the end of the year we might be able to create spaces where we can do a concert safely.” Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (Pacofs) CEO, Peter Pedlar, shared the same view as the theatre prepares for an eventual reopening.

“We would like to resume our programme as soon as possible. We have started sanitising and fumigating to make sure that there will be a safe reopening. Pacofs celebrates its 35th year, so the idea was to ramp up productions but in the present circumstances we have had to consider alternative methods,” he said.

The centre launched Live @ Pacofs in May where local artists were called upon to submit performances to be streamed on heir social media platforms as a way to create income for them. “What we’ve found, is that Pacofs has to be more flexible going forward by taking advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Pedlar.

Fokkens added that the Free State Youth Symphony Orchestra is the likeliest to hold performances once events begin. “We’re looking to work with the Youth Orchestra in October maybe where we will record them and stream to audiences just to keep the young people playing,” he said.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele