The International Public Art Festival to transform streets of Cape Town
Perhaps, strolling around Salt River, Cape Town, you’ve spotted a giant pangolin painted across the wall of a textile factory. Or, maybe while visiting Soweto’s iconic FNB Stadium, a massive brightly-coloured, Adidas-themed cooling tower piqued your attention. Those masterpieces are the works of Baz-Art and their collaborations with local and international street artists.
Who is Baz-Art and what do they do?
Established in 2016, Baz-Art is a trailblazing, non-profit organisation set to redefine public spaces through the transformative power of art. They’re also responsible for Cape Town’s International Public Art Festival. Annually, IPAF curates a series of public art projects that re-imagine and revive spaces, stimulate social interaction and cultural exchange and enhance urban safety.
Ahead of IPAF 2024 (their 8th edition) Roshana Naidoo, Director and Community Facilitator at Baz-Art, popped by for an invigorating chat about their organisation and what we can expect from this year’s festival.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Interview with Roshana Naidoo (Director at Baz-Art)
Q. Can you briefly explain the concept of place-making?
RN: We describe it as synonymous with safe-making. Mostly done in underserved communities and areas where places have become dilapidated, we activate spaces again. We involve the communities – especially the changemakers of the communities – and through street art or, better yet public art and place-making, we can facilitate and provide resources to re-energise spaces and to create vibrancy for adults and children to use those spaces.
Q: Are there opportunities for locals to get involved with Baz-Art before and after the festival?
RN: We create economic opportunities for people in all areas of Cape Town. Through these murals and the knowledge that you gain from their history, you can become a street art tour guide. There are already so many of them that are doing street art tours and they are busy constantly, every day. So many people want to know about our culture, our history, the murals that we paint, the people that painted them and their stories.
Q. What are the requirements for becoming a tour guide?
RN: You don’t need any degree of any sort. It doesn’t matter how old you are. We have a lots of seniors who are tour guides and it’s amazing. It’s not just economically viable, it also keeps them alive. I’ve seen first-hand what our street art tour guides are like and it’s something you can only admire, because they love their city and they love showing tourists – and even our local people – around. That’s why we roll out place-making in underserved communities.
Q. This year's theme, 'CoACT | CoLLAB,' focuses on creative collaboration across various disciplines, sectors and cultures. How would you go about implementing it?
RN: We’ll look for an expert within a field, for example, recycling. We’ll pair them with an artist, who will collaborate with the expert to create a related large-scale mural. And then we’d pair them with a videographer. With that trio, we can create a mural, we can execute an act of corporate social responsibility – like cleaning up a beach – and we can document a story around it so we can spread awareness. When the festival’s over, for the rest of the year, we go out into communities to educate about correct recycling practices. It’s an ongoing process.
Q: In addition to the guided art tours, IPAF facilitates workshops. What can we expect from this year's workshops?
RN: [The workshops are] always my favourite part. We’ve got art workshops with children in the park. We’ve got our first-ever senior’s workshop and we’re also having a calligraphy workshop this year, which is a first-of-its-kind. And, we’re having our [signature] graffiti workshops. Everyone loves that!
Where to buy tickets
This year’s IPAF runs from 14 to 18 February, starting with activations in The Company’s Garden and then unfolding throughout Cape Town’s CBD, inviting the public to immerse themselves in a space where art meets urban living. Here, you can truly witness the power of collaborative art. Tickets can be booked through Quicket.
For more on Baz-Art and how to get involved, visit their website at www.baz-art.co.za.