Artists gather at Beautifull Life in Cape Town
Multi-disciplinary work spaces for independent artists are hard to come by in Cape Town’s inner-city as rentals are high and the creative sector seems intent on defining its territory according to practise.
With this in mind, the Beautifull Life building opened its doors to various artists earlier this year. Its premises spreads across three floors and serves as a rehearsal space for performers, a gallery for visual art and sometimes hosts chefs producing food ‘art’.
Beautifull Life executive director Petra Wiese explains that the building came about after her business partner – a shipping boss from the Netherlands – saw a production of the dance piece Beautifull in 2008. The latter was performed by the Remix Dance Company which features disabled dancers in its works.
“He saw the performance and was in awe of it. I said enjoy it for now because that was going to be their last performance. Remix did not have future funding and so he decided to fund them and also this building where they can rehearse,” says Wiese.
The Beautifull Life building is in reference to the origins of this art and business partnership but it has become more than a dance project. It has hosted a number of artists at regular exhibitions – without taking a commission from sales, but instead charging R250 rental space for two shows.
Wiese describes herself as a creative entrepreneur with a design background. For her, Beautifull Life is an “arts and culture development company” that she intends to be a space for establishing sustainability for artists.
“We will work with artists at this building. We will teach them about the legal side of things, how to protect their work and help them to name their price. They need to know that the moment you start selling yourself short you open yourself up to abuse and expose yourself to business people who give business a bad name,” says Wiese.
“We want to help artists so that they are not victims. They have talents. They need to manage it. We teach them how to set up a company and run it properly.”
Wiese wants to link business networks to the artists who exhibit at Beautifull Life. She says that her business clients, while bearing an enthusiasm for the arts, have particularly complained about the visual arts sector.
“I spend millions on art for clients. Many clients don’t like galleries. They feel intimidated by galleries. Sometimes they also see things that they don’t like and never go back to galleries,” says Wiese.
“My clients complain that don’t want to go to a gallery ten times in a row before they find an artist they like. They don’t want to drive around the city to different places. They want to see a variety of art in one space. In our space they can see different artists, bring their families and enjoy creative food made by young chefs.”
Live music will also feature at Beautifull Life. Award-winning Cape Town-based musician Neo Muyanga is charged with envisioning a “platform for a variety of musicians”.
“We are trying to create our own circuit of how art travels. We want to give people options other than the mainstream. We are already in contact with musicians who want to be part of it,” says Muyanga.
“We want to show music on Friday afternoons so that people don’t escape the city. Our music series will make the point that music is not just one genre. We want to eradicate boundaries. We want to show different music.”
Wiese says that Beautifull Life wants to ultimately be an “amplifier” for artists.
“There are a lot of artists but nobody knows about them. They are sitting in their backyards. We want them to come to the city and we want to put them in contact with the public and clients,” she says.
Beautifull Life is located at 70-72 Bree Street in Cape Town’s central business district.
(This article was published in the Weekend Argus regional newspaper in Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday, July 8 2012.)