New hope for old theatres
Some fading heritage theatres are becoming venues for vibrant activity
Instead of gracefully sashaying off into the wings after taking a final and rather tragic bow, two of Johannesburg’s grand old theatre dames are reinventing themselves for a new generation of inner-city audiences — as arts education hubs. Urban decay, the migration of theatre audiences and the passage of time had made the demise of the Windybrow Arts Centre in Hillbrow and the Alhambra Theatre in New Doornfontein seem not only likely but grimly inevitable. In the case of the Windybrow, maladministration and rotting infrastructure added to the plight of the 121-year-old heritage building, one of the few remaining examples of 19th-century architecture in the city. The historic Windybrow, a stone’s throw from the Ponte tower, is being refurbished, after the arts & culture minister placed this national monument under the management of the Market Theatre Foundation in 2014 and the two theatres amalgamated last year. That year an unspent capital works grant of R11m was used to renovate th...
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