South Africa: Lack of Funding Means No Curtain Call for Johannesburg's Theatre On the Square

(file photo).

The Theatre on the Square is at risk of permanently closing its doors if sponsorship is not secured soon. With government support sorely lacking, artists and musicians have ever fewer performance spaces.

A theatre that has brought more than 2,500 new shows to life in its 27 years of existence has launched a fundraising campaign to prevent its curtains from closing permanently.

Johannesburg's Theatre on the Square in Nelson Mandela Square has created work for thousands of actors, musicians, designers and crew. It's safer financially to bring already successful shows to the stage, but the theatre has provided a platform for new playwrights and performers to present untested works by funding their productions.

The venue has survived by means of corporate sponsorships and by draining the bank balance of its founder, producer, owner and artistic director, Daphne Kuhn. During a year of Covid-19 closure, staff have all been retained and paid, but it can only reopen if a fundraising campaign generates enough cash to cover the bills and pay artists who are desperate to perform again.

Kuhn has been hesitant to publicise funding campaign because of a concern that potential sponsors...

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