“Days like these” - the work of Dance Lecturer in the Drama and Performance Studies Programme on the Howard College campus, Ms Lliane Loots - received standing ovations at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.
Delighted by the response, Loots said it was ‘a great affirmation that what the FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY and I are doing speaks to a type of zeitgeist in art making nationally’.
Loots also participated in the Festival THINKFEST 2016 programme and delivered a paper in a panel discussion on: “Empowering Women as Cultural Leaders in Africa”.
The panel was hosted by Arterial Network’s gender, arts and community desk and Loots presented alongside NAF’s 2016 featured Director and Playwright, Lara Foot; the NAF Standard Bank Young Artist 2016 winner for theatre, Jade Bowers, and Artists and Art Curator, Earnestine White.
The panel asked the various speakers to use their own ethnographic life stories as case studies of South African women working, researching and making art in the cultural sector.
Loots began her paper with an engagement of what it means to be a feminist art maker in Africa and asked, to much audience applause and laughter, why it is that well behaved women rarely make history?
Loots examined the intersection of race, class and gender in leadership in the arts and spoke about the power of mentorship as a feminist strategy for Africa. Alongside this, White picked up the discussions around race and gender relating to her own history as one of South Africa’s only Black female art curators. Foot, author of plays such as “Tshepang – the Third Testament” and “Karoo Moose”, spoke painfully and passionately about how to deconstruct white privilege so that African arts can begin to promote female leadership.
The panel discussion attracted a large audience and the question and answer section involved lively and engaged debate.
The focus of this year’s NAF Festival was specifically on women artists and the panel offered another way for festival goers to engage gender and the arts.