'Akin to orchestra capture' — Mthethwa plan gets a public panning


By [email protected] (Gill Gifford)

Louis Heyneman, CEO of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, is openly against the establishment of a national orchestra.

“We can’t afford it and we don’t need it; I think it’s a folly, a personal folly of Nathi Mthethwa,” he told Cape Talk this week.

“The players are not allocated on merit but placed at random. There are no auditions, they just invite whoever is on their list of players, they invite totally at random players to come and play. It’s a total duplication and a waste of money,” Heyneman said, criticising the huge costs involved in travel and accommodation for global tours.

“You can’t spend all R30m on a couple of concerts,” he said.

In an earlier interview with Daily Maverick he claimed the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra had been consulted only after the Mzansi NPO was already established. “This is akin to ‘orchestra capture’, where all the decisions about musical performance, transformation and training will be dominated by a few,” he said.

The Sunday Times was provided by the department with a fact sheet on the Mzansi NPO which states it is registered as a not-for-profit company and has been granted the status of a public benefit organisation (PBO) in terms of the Income Tax Act. It operates under the supervision of a board of directors “comprised of leading South Africans with high integrity”. 

“Before its launch, the NPO conducted benchmarking on international models, including the French and Hungarian national orchestras, some audience engagement programmes employed by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, various studies and reports available through the American Symphony Orchestra League.”

The R30m proposal comes in the aftermath of Mthethwa’s plans to spend R22m on a 100m-high “monumental” flag announced in May. It has since been labelled a vanity project and placed on review.

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