Gauteng Opera hit a tragic note this month, announcing that it will shut down after its final public performance today after nearly two decades on South Africa's arts landscape. The news was followed by the announcement that the Dance Umbrella - another legend of South Africa's arts scene - was also set to close its doors. The demise of these companies is the consequence of a shift in corporate and philanthropic generosity towards the arts, a challenge that, like South Africa's economy, the sector has struggled to recover from in the decade since the global economic crash. Arnold Cloete, chief operating officer of Gauteng Opera, said this week: "I can pinpoint for you when it really started going bad, back in 2008, with the huge world economic crash." Cloete said corporate work dropped almost immediately. "We used to do sit-down dinners in the Sandton Convention Centre for 500 people and suddenly they would book you for a cocktail for 50 people standing. It changed so quickly." A sn...

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