Local creativity takes centre stage as the V&A Waterfront prepares to welcome festive visitors back.
CAPE TOWN: 6 DECEMBER: The country’s top tourist destination has welcomed just over 20 million visitors in 12 months, up 36% on 2021 over the same period, highlighting a faster than expected recovery in tourism post the Covid-19 pandemic and is setting up for a bumper summer festive and to welcome local and international visitors with a unique, contemporary African festive experience.
Joy From Africa To The World, in its fourth year, brings together local crafters and artists to present festive decorations across the neighbourhood that honour local skills, showcase African creativity and challenge conventional thinking.
Tinyiko Mageza, Executive Manager: Marketing at the V&A Waterfront, said: “As the V&A continues to support local creatives through the JFA initiative, we are proud of the growing impact that we have had, and continue to have, on the communities around us.”
By supporting local sustainable businesses, this also in turn supports tourism. Tourism and sustainability work hand-in-hand and have a critical role to play in socio-economic development, and as a vehicle for poverty alleviation through skills development and business incubation. “The V&A Waterfront is committed to driving meaningful growth for entrepreneurs, creatives and enterprise development, and this sits at the heart of all of our plans for growth and development.
“Cape Town is benefitting from a quick rebound in tourism as the recovery rate for arrivals at Cape Town International Airport were more than 76% against the last normal in April with flights continuing to show good load factors. A full cruise tourism season is also on the cards to look forward to again,” said Mageza.
JFA has to date supported 150 small businesses and crafters, and 15 graphic designers. In addition, 400 tonnes of decorations have been reused, recycled and repurposed instead of being thrown away.
According to Mageza, opportunity, sustainability and inclusiveness is the foundation of JFA. “Four years ago, we rethought the festive season and wanted to install meaningful décor that reflects who we are, our South African culture, and at the same time, benefits our communities. It’s a showcase of the spirit of ubuntu and telling an immersive contemporary African story of togetherness,” said Mageza.
Platform Creative is the agency that curated the JFA installations, working with a diverse network of designers, makers, manufacturers and artists on the African continent. Platform Creative mentors and grows local creative industries while championing sustainability, encouraging conscious procurement and maintaining a socially motivated drive to build circular economies.
Cathy O’Clery, the company’s Creative Director said that this year’s JFA is exploring the endless possibility of creativity with pattern and textiles. “We want to showcase to the world a contemporary expression of joy. The beauty of Joy From Africa to the World is that each and every artist is recognised and visitors to the V&A Waterfront can experience first-hand the wonderful talent we have on the continent.”
One of the key installation highlights is the handmade cane woven hot air balloon by the Cape Town Society of the Blind. Veronica Pronk, CEO of the Cape Town Society of the Blind said 8-10 visually impaired staff members worked on this special project.
“Our weavers go through a training program for 18 months to learn the art of weaving together with some skill development on how to manage their own business. Depending on the skill of the individual they may take a little longer with the practical part of the learning programme,” said Pronk.
Master Wire & Bead Craft founder Bishop Tarambawamwe is a self-taught weaver and comes from humble beginnings in rural Zimbabwe, having learnt beading and weaving skills from his grandfather when they used to make walking sticks. “When I first started crafting, it was just me, I never thought it would grow like this. Then the more customers I got, the more my business grew. Our collection got bigger and bigger and now this is the third year we are working for JFA, and we now have 15 makers working on JFA. I’m grateful to the V&A for supporting the local artists and for this opportunity.”
The fashion link mall will also sport a dramatic new look thanks to the collective efforts of talented South African designers and illustrators. Textiles printed in unique patterns and designs have been combined with beading, Paper Mache, lights and other crafts to create an unexpected and sophisticated look.
By prioritising people and the planet, the V&A is an example of how working with African and international communities, respecting the environment, and operating with passion and integrity is a better, more productive, and kinder way of doing business.
Since embarking on this journey of sustainable development in 2008, the Waterfront has reduced its water consumption by 61%, invested R38 million into energy efficiency projects, reduced its carbon emissions and diverted 1595 tonnes of waste from its landfills annually. The 123-hectare mixed-use Waterfront neighbourhood, incorporating the oldest working harbour in the Southern Hemisphere, is one of Africa’s greenest precincts, with Diamond Status (through the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme), and South Africa’s greenest shopping centre.
The property nurtures over 400 start-ups, enterprise development projects and emerging small businesses that create income and employment. Many of the beneficiaries are from disadvantaged backgrounds, with limited education and income-generating skills.
Last year, the Waterfront clinched the global award at the highly contested World Responsible Tourism awards held in London. The Waterfront is one of a handful of winners of the overall Global Award. The Award was given in recognition of the Waterfront’s efforts to sustaining employees and communities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.