100 signatures reached
To: Archdiocese of Cape Town ArchBishop Stephen Brislin
Save the Athlone Cultural Hub and the CWD building at 146 Lawrence rd, Athlone
Respected ArchBishop. We appeal to you: Do not sell the building. Keep it open and raise funds for the premises to continue to serve the community of Athlone and surrounds. There are funders willing to assist. Let us support the notion that the building be declared a living heritage site. Let the historic role of the Catholic Church in the struggle against apartheid be forever immortalized.
There is a strong case for the building to be declared a heritage site and to continue to be used, especially now that a funder has stepped forward that has offered to cover running costs, including that of centre manager.
Regrettably the CWD management is thinking of selling the building and shutting it down. They indicated that no final decision has been taken but say that selling it cannot be ruled out. The former CWD Arts and Culture manager, Andre Marais, to quote Board Chairperson, Graham Wilson, 'had been given the use of the building, at no cost', and adding that 'the CWD continues to pay the electricity, security, water and other costs of the building'. (Athlone News and Weekend Argus). However the Board is trying to reverse this undertaking and remove Mr Marais from the building. This is unfair and should cease immediately. It was Mr Marais who sourced the funding that would enable the centre to continue to exist.
Under Mr Marais' stewardship the building was renamed 'The Athlone Cultural Hub'. It had been neglected and was falling into disrepair. The past 3 years saw a gamut of cultural activities taking place.
We have so few heritage sites dedicated to the working class youth on the Cape Flats.Where are the spaces for the working class to engage in Cultural activities, such as music, art, yoga, study of history and the history of Table Mountain, etc. We cannot allow this building to close. Let us mediate and find a way. One of the Hub members, Revolutionary Yoga is world acclaimed and has recently received an award for its outstanding work. The legendary Athlone school of Music, which runs programmes for over 300 youth from the Cape Flats on various instruments, is also housed at the Hub.
Why is this important?
In the days of apartheid, when many turned their backs on activists, the Catholic Church provided refuge, provided a source of comfort to the families of Coline Williams and Robert Waterwich. The youth from UDF's Wesco (Western Cape Student Congress) met regularly at the CWD premises, as did YCW (Young Christian Workers) and several other youth and community organizations. Activists on the run from the apartheid state were given refuge. It is now a space for the working class to engage in cultural activities such as music, art, yoga, the study of history and the history of Table Mountain. The CWD Executive wants to close the building. It is already a community that has few spaces for Culture. It should remain a living cultural space and heritage site. Please sign and share this petition.
In addition, for over 50 years the CWD projects operated from this centre and elsewhere. Tens of thousands of people were assisted. There were social workers; there was training for Early Childhood Development. There was a sewing project that brought together refugees with local workers. It housed the science laboratory of the legendary St Columba's school. The residence for the teachers was housed upstairs on site.
Over the past three years the then Arts and Culture manager, Andre Marais has managed to build up the Athlone Cultural Hub. Under his stewardship the Western Province Mountain Club is now housed in the building. They take youth of the area up Table Mountain and give talks about the history of the mountain. The Academy of Music has their administrative office on the premises. A jazz band, with local artist Trudy Rushin, have their practice sessions on site. The Revolutionary Yoga group operates at the Hub. There is also a dance club. There is a library of 30 000 classics and 10 000 movies. There have been several cultural activities held. There have been several education schools run by UCT Summer School. There is a corner for volunteers to read children stories. A memory garden has been started for Coline Williams and Robert Waterwich, who were killed in the struggle against apartheid. Robert was a former student of St Columba's and he would have used the laboratory. On the 13th February 2019 three rooms were renamed after the Trojan Horse 3. The library has been named after Shaun Magmoed. The section where the social workers used to operate, in front, has been named after Michael Miranda, while the upstairs section which used to be the dormitory of the teachers and lately was the section that housed the ECD, was named after Jonathan Claasen. Retired teachers are prepared to run free maths and science classes on site. A local resident is prepared to offer free carpentry classes.
There is a strong case for the building to be declared a living heritage site, especially now that a funder has stepped forward that has offered to cover running costs, including that of Cultural Hub manager.
Help us keep the building open.
How it will be delivered
We plan to send the petition by email and to also deliver it in person to the respected Archbishop Brislin.