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An annual contribution of R1,5 million by the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sports to the Cape Town Opera leads to direct foreign investment amounting to R14,2 million to the province, youth upliftment, and the creation of countless job opportunities. This comes after a briefing this morning by the Cape Town Opera in the Standing Committee on Cultural Affairs and Sports in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament.

I will be writing to the Western Cape MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sports, Anroux Marais, to determine what her Department is doing to increase funding to the arts in the province. The Operatic Arts are just one of the Western Cape’s leading cultural exports, which must be nurtured and protected.

Through shows which have toured Germany, Dubai, and Hong Kong, among others, the Cape Town Opera represents the cultural and artistic pride of the Western Cape Province as a leading source of world-class talent and operatic panache. These shows have brought R10,8 million to the province in 2016, and R14,2 million in 2017 thus far.

I am pleased to hear that our provincial government continues to champion the arts and their role in nation-building and social cohesion in South Africa, capitalising on the stories and artistic practices of our people to unite and educate our nation. Programs run by the Cape Town Opera in particular, help keep our children off the streets, and provide an alternative to a life of drugs and crime. This is an especially vital social service in our province.

It is, however, gravely worrying to hear that after countless appeals to the National Department of Arts and Culture, and the National Arts Council, the Cape Town Opera has not even had any of its funding applications processed. This speaks to severe neglect by national departments under the ANC, where the DA-led Western Cape has stepped in to help protect the arts from collapse.

We must continue to promote, protect, and fund the arts in South Africa as one of our country’s leading cultural exports and an effective means to uplift our youth and create artistic opportunity and jobs for our people.

As the DA in the Western Cape, we will continue to protect the arts by remaining committed to funding institutions such as the Cape Town Opera. We will also continue to lobby national government to heed our calls for greater investment in this sector. This forms part of our mandate to create an open, opportunity society for all.

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