Obs takes the arts to the streets

Last year's Streetopia event in Observatory drew a large crowd who enjoyed art, crafts and entertainment.

For one day, the Village Green and parts of Lower Main Road in Observatory will be home to artwork, performances, music, market stalls and a number of activities for all to enjoy, when Streetopia 2017 comes to town.

Streetopia is a free community event organised by AfrikaBurn in collaboration with the Observatory community.

“It doesn’t feature big-name acts, or any large sound systems. Rather, it’s a blank canvas where artists, performers, buskers, residents and kids can enjoy the open spaces of Obs and do their thing. The aim is to keep it villagey, intimate, spontaneous – and completely free,” said Travis Lyle, of AfrikaBurn.

The non-profit event made its first appearance in 2015, which saw AfrikaBurn providing the seed funding, around R106000, and ever since the model for funding has been to request support from businesses benefiting from the foot traffic Streetopia brings.

“The event is looking forward to strengthening relations with all stakeholders as it grows and becomes an integrated feature of Observatory’s annual calendar of highlights,” Mr Lyle said.

Locals have compared the event to Open Streets, which recently saw most of Victoria Road closed in similar way.

“It gets better each year, not just the event itself, but every idea to close off the public roads and open it to the public,” said Observatory resident Florence Johannsen “It’s such a lovely concept that we should really be having more of throughout the year.”

Ms Johannsen especially likes the fact that Streetopia promotes up and coming artists and performers

“It’s a real opportunity for local artist to showcase their talents. It’s a platform for the community to get to see what we have perhaps living right next door to us. I am all for taking the public spaces and making them positive for all to enjoy.”

Another local, Neil Anderton, is an art-lover and has always felt Observatory’s public spaces should be filled with art.

“There are times you see artists on the Village Green creating some beautiful pieces and it just looks right. So now imagine having many pieces on display – an art-lover’s heaven,” he laughed.

“This is a very different type of community, with so many different cultures and beliefs all crammed into one community. It’s very nice to see events catering for this and accommodating all these differences.”

Already, local artists such as Orah and The Kites, Southbound and 7th Wave have agreed to be part of event. And life coach Kimberly Stone will give talks at the community centre.

“As always, artworks and mutant vehicles from AfrikaBurn will be on display,” said Mr Lyle, “with this year seeing a large-scale aerial art piece being erected for the first time in Cape Town.

“Each year sees residents from Obs, Salt River, Woodstock and surrounds take up the invitation to exhibit their art and craft, host market stalls and dress up for a day of pageant.”

Leo Metcalf Letsape, music performer and busker, did Brazilian drumming in the streets at the last Streetopia and plans to return for this one.

“Love the event the atmosphere and the people it brings together. We performed on Lower Main Road as Oceans Riff,” he said.

Streetopia takes place in the Obs community centre, on the Village Green and along a stretch of Lower Main Road in Observatory and runs from 10am to 6pm on Saturday November 25.

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