UJ Arts & Culture
UJ Arts & Culture is a division of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg in Auckland Park. The division works year round to produce world-class student theatre productions, art exhibitions and entertainment festivals. Their Arts Centre is also home to the award-winning UJ Choir, the annual UJ Weekend of Jazz Festival and various comedy show features in association with Goliath & Goliath. The UJ Arts Centre boasts three venues, which welcome students, parents and art lovers of all kinds to come and experience cutting-edge theatre, art, opera and installation performances.
Sadly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the centre has suspended all activity and has postponed their scheduled events until public gatherings are once again allowed, disappointing ticket holders and loyal patrons. Moreover, for students sponsored by the UJ FADA Dean’s Bursary Fund, this will be devastating. The Dean’s annual concert of opera and singing sponsors these students in part, offering them the chance to continue their studies unhindered by financial burdens. The 2020 Grand Night For Singing event was meant to take place on Saturday, 18 April 2020.
In its place, UJ Arts & Culture presents, ‘SILENCE: A Grand Night for Nothing’, which marks the absence of UJ’s annual Dean’s Concert and kicks off a week-long lineup of un-events – “un-theatre, un-dance, non-exhibitions, non-workshops and a smorgasbord of nothing.”
On Tuesday, 12 May 2020, UJ Arts & Culture announced its all new ‘counter intuitive’, ‘COVID-19 response’ UNFESTIVAL programme. A tongue-in-cheek take on what it means to both produce and consume art in these times, the UNFESTIVAL is about “mourning for many of the things we love, of which the pandemic has robbed us,” says Pieter Jacobs, Head of UJ Arts & Culture. “By its very nature, a festival of nothing makes no sense. Festivals are celebrations of traditions, cultures and things we love. But COVID-19 came and turned everything on its head.”
Indeed, UJ Arts & Culture has embraced this ‘new normal’ by creating a week-long festival of ‘un-events’. While many arts organisations are turning towards digital solutions to bring art to the masses, the UNFESTIVAL does the opposite. However, it does address the absurdity of the current moment, calling out those trying to ‘make sense of things’, in a world where very little makes sense. That’s why instead of turning to digital solutions for their work to keep you entertained at home, UJ Arts & Culture are asking would be audiences to purchase tickets to a series of non-happenings, in aid of the Dean’s Bursary Fund and Business and Arts South Africa’s (BASA) artist relief efforts.
Jacobs announced, “Fifty per cent of UNFESTIVAL SA’s proceeds will be distributed to needy students via the UJ FADA Dean’s Bursary Fund, which provides support for academically deserving students, and presents an opportunity for the public to give hope to the academic journey of the youth. The balance of 50% will be distributed via BASA’s Supporting Grants programme, which now offers artists and creative practitioners once-off, short-term financial aid for COVID-19-related medical care or to offset the loss of income due to the cancellation of confirmed engagements.”
Why Not Host A Real Digital Festival?
In case you weren’t aware, thousands of South African artists face dire circumstances in light of the national lockdown. Government has done very little to aid artists who will be out of work for months to come as theatre productions, art exhibitions, film shoots and most other public events have been halted. Showing our support to hard-working artists is vital, especially since many of us have made it through lockdown thanks to their creative output. Just think about how many books, films, television shows and live streaming events you have watched during this time. How much of the content you have consumed was made free by the artists?
The UJ Arts & Culture UNFESTIVAL addresses these issues and many more, simply by not existing. Show your support by purchasing a ticket to any one of the nine ‘un-events’, but please don’t actually come. You’ll be sorely disappointed and very much alone. You’ll also be in violation of lockdown, so rather stay home.
For More Information
The UJ Arts & Culture UNFESTIVAL takes place from Tuesday, 26 May 2020 – Saturday, 06 June 2020. Visit www.arts.uj.ac.za or www.basa.co.za for full programme details. Bookings open on Thursday, 21 May 2020.
Follow them on social media for more information:
Facebook – facebook.com/UJArtsCentre
Twitter – twitter.com/UJArtsCentre
Contact them on 011 559 4674 or via email at email@example.com.