MBMS proves that the arts can be a catalyst for change

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The My Body  My Space festival, which will again take dance, theatre and other art forms to the streets and public spaces of Emakhazeni in Mpumalanga from 23 to 28 April 2019, has established itself as an creative platform to talk about social issues in the very places where these conversations are arguably needed the most – South Africa’s  rural areas.

PJ Sabbagha, who heads up the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative (FATC) and the Ebhudlweni Arts Centre, one of the performances hubs during the festival, says he is profoundly moved and grateful for the support – both financial and in kind – from a broad range of partners at local, provincial, national and international level.

“Also central to this extensive community of funders, sponsors and partners is the invaluable contribution of the community of artists who have generously agreed to add their voices and energy to the festival,” Sabbagha notes.

“This mass mobilisation, at so many levels of South African society, is tangible and real evidence of the power of community, of shared values and of the deep commitment by many like-minded citizens to make a meaningful and invaluable contribution towards transformative arts practice.”

Pieter Jacobs, the head of UJ Arts & Culture, agrees that the festival has become a vital actor in the broader South African arts landscape. “The My Body My Space Festival is a unique and much-needed endeavour to offer free access to communities who would otherwise not be able to experience arts and culture,” he says.

“As one of UJ Arts & Culture’s outreach projects, the festival is in perfect alignment with the University of Johannesburg’s values and objectives to engage with, and contribute to, the lives of South Africans.”

Yvette Nowell, head of the RMB Fund, which supports corporate social investment (CSI) projects, adds: “At RMB, we apply solutionist thinking to economic, social and environmental challenges. We are proud supporters of CSI programme beneficiaries like the FATC, because of their commitment to social transformation and unlocking talent through the creative arts – in this case, through the impressive My Body My Space Festival, which is inclusive and rural by design.”

The CEO of Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), Ashraf Johaardien, says that BASA is proud to once again lend its support to this influential arts festival.

“The FATC is a frontrunner in presenting work that celebrates the depth and breadth of South Africa’s diversity,” he says. “This year’s My Body My Space Festival is a freedom-focused festival featuring a programme that reflects a broad spectrum of compelling creative work and we look forward to this year’s iteration of the festival.”

Funded by the National Arts Council of South Africa, this public arts festival will be heading out to rural communities in and around Machadodorp and Emthonjeni over the Freedom Day weekend.

Audiences will be treated to a number of thought-provoking dance, theatre, musical and spoken-word performances, workshops and installations themed around the concept of “freedom”, by renowned local and international performers, including the FATC, Vuyani Dance Theatre, Moving into Dance, Unmute Dance Theatre and Drama for Life.

Entrance to all performances and workshops is free. The full programme is available on Facebook at My Body My Space: Public Arts Festival (@MyBodyMySpace), or email

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