One of Cape Town’s favourite venues, the Joseph Stone Auditorium in Athlone, is finally opening its doors to the local entertainment industry after the country went into lockdown five months ago.
The iconic venue has been upgraded with sound and lights but best of all, it now also has live streaming facilities in place.
As difficult as it’s been over these past few months for artists to make ends meet, it has been even more difficult for the theatre venues to sustain themselves as no large gatherings are allowed under the Covid-19 regulations.
At least artists could turn to live streaming.
Ebrahim Lawrence, the theatre’s manager, says: “As a venue, we have been worrying about the artists but still wanted to give them quality hence we took our time to put everything in place.”
He says the late Shafiek April, the chairman of the Cape Malay Choir Board, also tried to assist: “Boeta Shafiek even tried to help when it came to artist funding applications (from the government).”
For me as an artist, this upgrade is a breath of fresh air in this very difficult time.
Being on an actual stage is what I miss the most during this lockdown.
The Joseph Stone has always had the community and local entertainers at heart.
They’ve always maintained good relationships with artists because of the genuine love they show towards the upliftment of the Cape Flats entertainment industry.
I can sense that they have good intentions to once again provide a space where artists can at least make an income without hurting our pockets.
Ebrahim says: “Although we ourselves have been quiet and it’s been difficult for us and our staff, our intention is to assist the arts and place our own needs second to that of the artists, because our intention is to help and not to use the artists’ desperation to work for our own personal gain.”
This is why I’ve loved working at the Joseph Stone over the past few years.
I could feel myself growing all the time.
The Joseph Stone is the home away from home for local artists and I would encourage everyone in the arts fraternity to go and check out the upgraded space and make use of the venue for your shows.
They’ve been there for us before and during Covid-19, and now we also need to be there for them in order to keep the venue alive.
They will soon also open the doors to their dance school again.
Asked about the impact the pandemic has had on the Eoan Group and the dance school, Abeedah Medell, the principal of the Joseph Stone dance school says: “The Eoan Group as an 87-year-old cultural arts organisation found itself, along with many South African artists, in dire straits with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Group has survived apartheid, the Group Areas Act, riots and boycotts, yet the pandemic threatened not only the progress of our Eoan kids in training but the livelihoods of our staff.
“Our Eoan academic centre (independent school) which was launched in January this year, [was] allowed to return at Level 3 and protocols were put in place.”
To book the Joseph Stone Auditorium, contact them on 021 637 1268.