Statement from the Market Theatre Foundation re: OL Africa
The Market Theatre Foundation (MTF) has been, and continues to be, committed to all its stakeholders. The council, as custodians of the foundation, operates in its best interest and within the parameters of legislation and the principles of good governance. In line with our commitment towards supporting, educating and developing a diverse community of performing and visual artists, we equally provide and lease space to artists.
2020/21 has been one of the most challenging periods in recent history. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unimaginable personal and financial loss to millions of people. As an institution that supports artists and their practice(s) we have worked on mitigating the vulnerable position of artists and balancing the financial health of the institution.
It is with regret that we find ourselves in a deadlock with an artist who was leasing space from the Windybrow Arts Center (WAC). The OL Africa Media Foundation (OLAMF) had a six-month lease, from 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021. By February 2021 the OLAMF was in arrears and the WAC worked on finding a solution that could ensure the back payments were met and the space could remain available to the artist. Unfortunately, the two parties failed to reach an agreement and entered into a formal mediation process. Through this process a number of points were agreed upon and the OLAMF was to formally respond. The deadline and subsequent extensions were not met and none of the requested and agreed to information or undertakings have been submitted by the OLAMF.
On the weekend of the 14th and 15th of May the OL Africa Media Foundation staged a sit-in at the Market Square and numerous social media posts were shared, disparaging the MTF, with no context. We take this matter very seriously as we value the artists and technical practitioners we serve. However, in-spite of the best efforts to find an amicable solution we have been met with opposition and a situation where none of the agreed to resolutions have been met by the OLAMF.
During the staged sit-in a representative of the OLAMF demanded to speak to Council. The group was advised on the process to engage with Council and the requested information is yet to be received from them.
We are working to get this matter resolved in a way that ensures the safety of artists whilst maintaining the integrity of the Market Theatre Foundation.