Diane Rossi is passionate about all the arts. She completed her Master’s degree in Theatre Studies at UKZN and then worked for the Loft Theatre Company and Nicholas Ellenbogen. She subsequently taught at numerous tertiary institutions in South Africa and the US. Her passion, however, has always been jazz. Since 2007, she has been promoting jazz and jazz education via SAJE – the South African Association for Jazz Education – organising the biennial SAJE Jazz Conference. Currently, Rossi organises outreach workshops, live music performances, mentorship projects, the biennial SAJE Jazz Conference and SAJE Jazz Festival.
Name three artworks that you love and why.
Any photograph by Obie Oberholzer because he so splendidly captures the things I love (and hate) about South Africa.
The stone-filled elephant sculptures by Andries Botha at Warwick Triangle in Durban – because they are bold and magnificent.
Any play by Athol Fugard – because he makes us walk the tightrope of life in South Africa.
Name one artist you would love to meet.
What are you reading at the moment?
The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal.
What is in your car’s CD player?
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Sometimes I’m a trifle impatient – I don’t suffer fools easily.
How have the arts industries in South Africa changed over the last ten years?
The arts industries, in general, have flourished in some spheres, but in others because of the lack of arts funding sadly there has been little or no change. Artists still struggle to make a decent living.
Name one thing you think would improve the arts and culture industry in South Africa.
More funding from the business sector.
What is your most treasured possession?
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Losing a loved one.
What is it that makes you happy?
To quote Leo Tolstoy… rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbour.
Describe a defining moment in your life.
Meeting my husband Mike.
What projects will you be busy with during 2018 and into 2019?
The 14th SAJE Jazz Conference (April 2018) and the 6th SAJE Jazz Festival (2019). SAJE will continue with its outreach and mentorship projects and live music performances (in conjunction with Concerts SA), plus facilitating an ongoing student/teacher cultural exchange programme between South Africa and Italy.
Name one goal you would like to achieve in the next twelve months.
To travel more.