Powerhouse panel to assess the impact of the arts on SA’s democracy

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George Bizos
George Bizos

What role has the arts played in advancing the Constitution – and what more can the sector do to cement our freedom? As South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy, this pertinent question will come under the spotlight during the 21 Icons Campus Dialogue at the Wits Theatre on Tuesday, 16 September 2014.

Issues such as human rights, censorship and access to the arts will be raised when a high-level panel consisting of George Bizos, Adrienne Sichel and Phyllis Klotz talks about the role the visual and performing arts have played in furthering South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

Bizos is a world-renowned human rights lawyer who was Nelson Mandela’s lawyer, confidant and close friend. Klotz is the artistic director and co-founder of the Sibikwa Arts Centre, and has a lengthy track record in development theatre in education. Sichel is a freelance theatre journalist, as well as a dance history researcher and consultant at The Ar(t)chive at Wits University.

This fascinating campus dialogue, which is free to the public, is a partnership between 21 Icons, the Wits Theatre and Brand SA. Wits Theatre director Gita Pather will facilitate the discussion.

Gita Pather
Gita Pather

The powerhouse panel will discuss and dissect the impact the arts sector has had in mobilising dissent and effecting change pre- and post-1994, and whether the post-democratic arts order has continued to effectively exercise its role as agitator and interrogator of the social status quo.

The discussion is a project of the 21 Icons project, which, through photography, film and other initiatives, has been profiling the achievements of 21 South African icons that have played a pivotal role in shaping and defining our young democracy.

The 21 Icons team – alongside partners such as Brand South Africa – is holding a series of dialogues on university campuses across South Africa, in a bid to stimulate debate between young people and those very icons that have helped craft and shape our world-renowned Constitution.

Says founder of 21 Icons Adrian Steirn: “It is our goal this season to stimulate public participation and dialogue in the project, and in so doing, encourage upstander behavior, the hallmark of an icon. Through panel discussions and other activities, 21 Icons South Africa will relay the message that regardless of race, creed or socio-economic standing, anyone can act with integrity and make a positive impact and influence changes to our world today.”

The Wits chapter of these dialogues, taking place at the Wits Theatre in Braamfontein on 16 September at 6pm, promises to be a stimulating and challenging encounter.

Although the session is free, space is limited and those who are interested in attending are advised to book their tickets (two per person) by emailing info@buz.co.za. Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #21iconsWitsChapter – and let’s get talking about the role of the arts in promoting democracy!

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