In South Africa, there is no shortage of performing artists. In Johannesburg, the city I live in and write from, this is particularly true. Joburg is home to countless dancers, actors, musicians, playwrights, stand-up comics, and more. But while performance itself abounds in the city, can the same be said for its performing arts venues?
As I write this, a new comedy club has opened in the creative suburb of Melville, the latest addition to the city’s various stand-up comedy venues. A host of new parties and events are set to take place throughout the bars and nightclubs that populate the city. Theatres, both independent and longstanding, seem to be doing well if we’re looking at the amount of shows they’re churning out. And from a distance, this all seems positive. It looks to have all the makings of a thriving live performance scene in Johannesburg. Closer to the truth is the fact that many of these venues struggle, constantly, to remain financially viable and to garner the amount of consistent patronage that can keep their venues operational.
Towards the start of 2019, The Orbit, Braamfontein’s well-known home to live jazz music, announced its closure. The news was heard locally and internationally as musicians and music-lovers alike mourned the loss of one of the city’s iconic live jazz venues. For a few in the know, The Orbit’s closure had been on the horizon for some time. For the greater public, the news came as a complete shock – ‘The Orbit can’t close down, right? It’s The Orbit!’ So, what happened exactly?
To read more about what happened to The Orbit, South Africa’s music festivals, music venues and the shifting nature of music and the creative economy, purchase the March 2019 issue of Creative Feel, or continue supporting our role in the arts and culture industry by subscribing to our monthly magazine – from only R180.00 per year.