The DA urgently calls for immediate intervention at Johannesburg Art Gallery

Issued by Veronica van Dyk MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture
07 Jul 2023 in News
  • Media reports have shone light on the failure of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture to maintain the Johannesburg Art Gallery which is considered a national treasure.
  • The Gallery is falling into ruins with water leakages potentially damaging important works of art.
  • The DA will write to the Chairperson of the portfolio committee to demand urgent action and an update on the condition of the gallery.

Note to editors: Please find attached Afrikaans and English soundbite by Veronica van Dyk MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) urgently calls for immediate intervention at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. The current state of the gallery poses a serious threat to our national cultural heritage, and we cannot afford to delay action any longer.

Despite previous oversight inspections and our repeated requests for intervention, little has been done to address the dire situation at the gallery. The neglected 100-year-old building suffers from issues such as water leakages, which have only worsened over time. Media reports have highlighted the alarming conditions, with art piled haphazardly, surrounded by deceased rodents and birds, and storage areas exposed to water leaks. The safety concerns have already led to the removal of the Oppenheimer collection, and visitor numbers remain low as only four halls are open for public viewing.

The Johannesburg Art Gallery houses an extraordinary collection and is considered an absolute national treasure. With works by esteemed artists such as Auguste Rodin, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Pablo Picasso, this collection must be protected at all costs. The DA has taken the initiative to write to the Chairperson of the portfolio committee, Ms. Beauty Dlulane, seeking an extensive update on the gallery’s condition and demanding urgent action.

In light of the urgency of the situation, we propose exploring the offer made by the Western Cape Department of Sport, Arts, and Culture. Minister Anroux Marais has expressed willingness to assist in relocating the artworks to a safe haven in their province. We believe it is crucial for all stakeholders to come together and engage in discussions to determine the best way forward.

The time has come to prioritise intervention and save the Johannesburg Art Gallery, along with its invaluable art collection. Failure to act promptly would result in the irreparable loss of our cultural heritage. The DA stands committed to preserving our national treasures and ensuring that future generations can experience and appreciate the artistic legacy of our country.

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