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Save SA's Three Artists' Residencies at The Cité, Paris

Posted on 18 October 2021

"Even breathing the air in Paris changed my life. It changed the way I think, and it changed my work" - Marina Louw (South African Cité resident).

The South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA) is a non-profit organisation that administers three residency studio spaces at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France, for the benefit of all its members. It has been a much-needed inspiration for South African artists since the 1980s.

These studios need to be renovated for the first time in 40 years, and these renovations should last for the next 40 years.

The upgrades are mandatory, and if renovations are not done, the studios need to permanently be returned to the Cité, and they will be lost to South African artists forever.

A French company must undertake all restoration and renovation to adhere to safety legislation and labour compliance.

SANAVA is obliged to raise a total of R3.6 million by June 2022 for the restoration and renovation of the three studios, of which R1.5 million needs to be raised by the end of 2021 so that renovation can proceed according to the program of the Cité.

It might not seem important to the public to keep these studios, but they are a part of our cultural heritage. These three studios have provided affordable opportunities over the past 40 years for hundreds of South African artists who would otherwise never have had the chance to visit the numerous museums and network with international artists who are also resident at the Cité.

The Cité annually welcomes up to 1200 artists from 100 countries in more than 300 studios. Artists from all disciplines and curators are hosted for residencies that can last from 2 to 12 months.

The idea is for artists to work and grow while in residence, and the opportunity is not to be used as a cheap holiday. The studios are equipped with only the bare necessities, and the renovations would be more for upkeep and maintenance than an upgrade.

Each SA artist pays the levy of approximately R10 000 a month to live and work in one of the studio spaces. The studios are located along the Seine in the very centre of Paris (within a 1.5km radius of the Louvre, the Pompidou and Notre Dame).

Artists are also provided with a museum card that allows free access to dozens of Parisian museums, including museums of African, Asian and European art.

Any SA artist who is a member of SANAVA (approximately R150 a year via one of their nineteen South African branches), and has already shown proof of their artistic merit, may apply to spend a few months at the Cité in Paris. These artists have a life-changing opportunity to live and work in a world metropolis known for its cultural richness.

The artists also host open-studios and exhibitions of their work, where they experience the cultures of, and interact with, artists from all over the world.

Artists such as Penny Siopis, Diane Victor, Isaac Kanyile, Amita Makan, Wayne Barker, Philiswa Lila, Angus Taylor, Rina Stutzer and Banele Khoza are amongst the hundreds of South African artists who have lived and worked at the Cité.

Any other artists who would like to be Cité residents in the future are encouraged to join SANAVA via their local affiliated arts association and follow the application guidelines.

SANAVA is a non-profit organisation that depends on funding from funding agencies, donors and affiliation fees, so they urgently need the assistance of all South African art lovers if they are to preserve this aspect of our cultural heritage for another 40 years.

To donate, visit Backabuddy and for more information about the Cité, visit SANAVA's website.


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