Heritage Day looks bleak for Victoria West Apollo Theatre

Gerda Moolman, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Constituency Head of Bo-Karoo

While the country prepares to celebrate Heritage Day on Monday (24 September 2012), the Democratic Alliance is deeply concerned that the Northern Cape government has as yet done nothing to protect and promote the legacy of the once renowned Apollo Theatre in Victoria West.

In August this year, the DA highlighted the fact that equipment belonging to the Apollo Theatre was to be auctioned off to pay the outstanding dental fees of R1000, of an employee of the Apollo Development Association. The DA expressed outrage that the future of a South African landmark of international acclaim had come to this. In response, the HOD of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture promised to personally pay off the debt in order to prevent projectors and chairs from being auctioned off.

The department has, however, still done nothing to save the cultural legacy of the Apollo Theatre and its popular film festival. At the same time, promises to host a film festival in Victoria West in September this year have come to nothing.

The Apollo Theater is the only Art Deco period theatre in the southern hemisphere. Up until 2009, it was world famous for playing host to an annual film festival. Once a year, Victoria West came to life with well known personalities in the film industry gracing the town to attend premier film screenings by new and upcoming filmmakers, the economy in turn receiving a welcome boost. The theatre also served as a base from which youth were instructed in IT, catering, construction, masonry and the arts. But now this is all in the past and the Apollo Theatre stands neglected and forgotten, as do the people of Victoria West.

It is a disgrace that the department is allowing a valuable part of the Northern Cape’s cultural and artistic heritage to be obliterated via blatant mismanagement and what appears to be disinterest on the part of the department. We only hope that our provincial government takes note of this tragic situation before it is too late to save the Apollo Theatre and all that it stands for.

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