CAPE TOWN — The provision of free internet and museum revamps to honour Dr Christiaan Barnard’s historic heart transplant and the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi are some of the projects that will be undertaken or assisted by the Western Cape Cultural Affairs and Sport Department this year.
Outlining how the provincial department plans to spend its R725 million budget, senior officials told the Provincial Legislature’s Standing Committee on Cultural Affairs and Sport that the lion’s share of the budget, R374.6 million, will be used for Library and Archive Services in the province.
Sports and Recreation will get R180.9 million of the budget, while Cultural Affairs will get R106.1 million and R63.3 million will be spent on administration.
A chunk of the R374.6 million allocated to Library and Archive Services will be used to continue to provide free public internet access to communities at the department’s 370 library centres.
Cultural Affairs and Sports MEC, Anroux Marais, said museum services will receive R57.6 million from the overall 2017/18 departmental budget.
“Museums generally employ small numbers of people but they represent a gateway to the tourism economy for most small towns. Increasing tourism can therefore improve socio-economic conditions,” she said.
Turning to programmes focusing on nation building and reigniting unity, MEC Marais highlighted the importance of the department’s storytelling of oral histories initiative.
The MEC said that sharing stories is significantly relevant to making a positive change in communities.
“What better way to encapsulate all our services than through telling our stories, listening to the stories of others and in essence, sharing our oral histories and our life stories. There is no doubt in my mind that the Oral History through Storytelling Initiative will contribute to social inclusion and a celebration of our diversity,” she said.
MEC Marais said due to her firm belief that sport has the potential to change lives and bringing people together, the sport fraternity is also on board on the storytelling initiative.
She said the vision is to integrate the various components within the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport by capturing and documenting the stories of communities within the Western Cape.
She said because libraries will be the place where stories will be shared, the initiative will promote libraries and museums as social hubs, where communities are able to document their stories.
Also in the pipeline is the transformation of Worcester Museum and a new travelling exhibition that will mark the 50th anniversary of the first heart transplant by the late Dr Barnard on 3 December 2017. The display at Barnard’s childhood home in Beaufort West Museum will also be upgraded.
A travelling exhibition to mark the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi will be produced and circulated among museums around the province in memory of the brave men who lost their lives.