IN THE DARK: Cape Malay Choir Board says the City never informed them of the temporary closure of the City Hall venue

The Cape Malay Choir Board (CMCB) has slammed the City of Cape Town for “robbing them of their cultural home”.
The board yesterday expressed their shock that they will not be able to host their annual competition at the City Hall next year.

This follows an announcement by the City this week that the City Hall will be temporarily closed from September to June 2018 for a R27 million upgrade.

Mayco Member for Assets and Facilities Management, Stuart Diamond, says the historic gebou, built in 1905, is in need of urgent repairs.

However, CMCB President Shafick April, says they are kwaad because they were not notified.

He explains the board has been in consultation with the City for several months now as they applied in advance to use the City Hall in 2018.

“The first time we heard of it was when the Daily Voice called [yesterday],” he says, adding that the CMCB hasn’t even given thought to an alternative venue yet.

“The competition is usually held between February, March and June and now we have to rush to find another venue.

“We are very disappointed that we were not informed and this feels just like the time they put us out of the Good Hope Centre when they leased it to a film company.”

In April last year, the City closed that iconic centre’s doors to the public because it was running at a loss.

The City expects to earn R250 000 per month from leasing the venue to a film company.

April explains the annual choir competition dates back to 1939 and the City Hall was the original venue for the event before they were moved to the Good Hope Centre.

“This is one of the few events which celebrate our Cape culture and it is being taken away. They could have told us a long time ago that they are going ahead and we would have made another plan a long time ago.

“The City must raak wys and talk to us,” says April.

Diamond, however, denies the City is getting rid of the Cape Malay cultural event and says the upgrade was always going to have an impact on those using City Hall.

“It’s not a case of us putting them out. Regardless of when we had done it, it would have had an impact on some of the users of City Hall,” says Diamond.

“We have done a full audit of the users and there is a strict instruction that the property management department assist the users with finding an alternate venue for their events.”

He says the repairs are necessary to ensure that the City Hall is compliant in terms of the national safety regulations.

April says they are waiting for formal communication from the City and while the board is happy about the upgrade, they’ve now been left in the lurch.

“Look, City Hall is our home and we understand the upgrade must happen, but if they had told us earlier then we could have made a plan quicker for another venue.

“We will hear what they say and take it from there, but when the upgrade is done we will apply again to have the competition there,” he says.