TO GIVE women exposure and a platform, an arts festival celebrating them will be held in Newtown.
Known as Celebrating SADC Women in Theatre and Dance Festival, the event will take place from March 9 to 13 in Joburg at the Newtown Market Theatre Laboratory.
The festival will showcase an array of dance and theatre items from across the Southern African Development Community region. There will also be a number of workshops that will give women a chance to discuss issues affecting them in the arts.
The festival is aimed at to eliciting robust debate around the status of women in the performing arts.
South African arts practitioners who will take part include Marie France-Favory, Sindisiwe Nxumalo, Lara Foot-Newton, Keketso Semoko, Annabell Lebethe, Sibongile Khumalo, Michelle Constant, Bobby Rodwell and Ntshieng Mokgoro.
Tanzanian professor, Amandina Lihamba, who has been researching the way women are neglected in the arts will present his findings.
"The sentiment is that women are not adequately recognised despite the hard work they put into creating their best productions. Women also feel they are not given adequate space to showcase their work," Lihamba says.
Southern African Theatre Initiative (Sati) executive director Mpho Molepo says: "During the three Sati-led symposiums held between 2003 and 2005 for women in theatre in Southern Africa, the exclusion of women in the arts echoed profoundly."
The theatre and dance works that will be presented have been selected for their potential to showcase the vast pool of female artistic skill and talent in the region.
The focus will be on funding, leadership, training and networking. A debate on women being sidelined in the arts will top the agenda. The first national networks meeting, which will be open to the public , will be hosted at one of the workshops.
The festival is the culmination of research conducted by Sati in South Africa, Malawi, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mauritius, Swaziland, the Seychelles, Mozambique, Tanzania and Lesotho.