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City Soiree : Concerts in unconventional and non-traditional venues




City Soirée was born from two separate but interlinked concepts. The first of these is that the arts are, financially speaking, in trouble. This is nothing new. The problems that artists of all disciplines are facing comes down to the challenges of earning a living from your art as well as having the freedom to innovate and to grow as an artist.  But where others may feel despondent, we see it as an opportunity to reinvestigate the way in which the arts, and more specifically the performing arts, are being conceptualised, presented and marketed. The second reason behind City Soirée is that there aren’t performance opportunities readily available for artists that stray from the mainstream or whose work falls outside of the popular idiom. We aim to provide such a platform.
 
The basic blueprint is to have (usually three) different performances at a concert and to stage these in unconventional and non-traditional venues. The concerts are very intimate, anything between 40 and 100 people, and could be anywhere from a bookshop to an art gallery. There are some interesting potential spaces that we hope to investigate in the near future but for now we’ll keep our cards close to our chest. Previous events have included poetry, Renaissance lute music, modern and traditional classical music, experimental filmmaking, traditional African music, performance art, interpretive dancing, contemporary guitar music, and experimental jazz. The process of establishing ourselves as a platform for these types of artists and getting the attention of Cape Town concert goers have been very successful so far. The feedback as a whole has been incredibly positive. Solving the problem of financial dignity and independence for performers is obviously not an easy one and remains our main long-term objective. Up to now we have been very fortunate to have performers involved who sees the bigger picture and who were willing to play for little or no financial compensation. The flip side is that all of our performers have expressed the joy of playing for a receptive and very appreciative audience who in turn has voiced their support for an initiative that brings them in contact with performers they might otherwise not have had the chance to see. For example, a person might come to hear poetry and be surprised and amazed by the richness of modern Classical Guitar music. Even though our audiences generally include people from all ages, the most encouraging thing is to see people in their 20’s and 30’s coming to these gigs and leave wanting more.
 
Apart from focusing on growing City Soirée we will soon be launching our next initiative, which will focus on the more traditional idea of one performer or group at a specific concert. This will give us the chance to stage individual concerts for artists that stand out at our City Soirée shows. We also hope to have branched out into house concerts before the end of the year. All of these initiatives will aim to bring new and innovative performers and artists to the fore. Cape Town is currently experiencing a growth and reinvention that is largely being fuelled by creativity and the creative industries and we feel strongly that we can and should be part of this through innovations in the performing arts. One of our initial goals was to bring City Soirée to The Fringe so we were very excited to be at The Book Lounge for our last concert. We hope to have many more events in the East City and to contribute to Cape Town’s bid for the 2014 Design Capital title.

Artists who are interested in performing can contact us at citysoireeinfo@gmail.com.

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