Freedom to Create. Cape Town.

Freedom to Create, an international organisation that supports artists from around the world who use the transformative power of the arts to inspire social change in the face of oppression, discrimination and socio-economic challenges, is bringing its prestigious annual Prize awards ceremony, Exhibition and Female Empowerment Forum to Cape Town in November.

Established in 2006, Freedom to Create harnesses the power of art and culture to build more creative and prosperous societies. Each year, Freedom to Create awards the Freedom to Create Prize to artists in recognition of their courage and creativity in expressing the angst and aspirations of ordinary people to encourage dialogue around pressing social issues and inspire transformational social change.

The 2011 Freedom to Create Prize winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Cape Town on 19 November 2011, at the stunning Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The awards ceremony will feature performances of soul stirring songs by The Gugulethu Tenors, Kwaito music by Namibian artist EeS and a vibrant concert by Senegalese superstar Baaba Maal. The Freedom to Create Prize awards ceremony, which will kick off the Kirstenbosch summer concert season.

Tickets to the 2011 Freedom to Create Prize awards ceremony and concert cost R100 per person and are now available through Webtickets. Freedom to Create will gift the proceeds of all online tickets sales to a community programme in Cape Town, at the awards ceremony.

Announcing the event, spokesperson for Freedom to Create, Priti Devi said, “Prosperity today is generally thought of in economic and material terms however, we have long believed that human fulfilment comes from a more holistic definition of prosperity, one that encompasses human flourishing. Our aim is to encourage the use of creativity and the arts to influence positive social change because we believe that a creative society is a prosperous society.”
Explaining the choice of Cape Town to host the 2011 Freedom to Create Prize event, Ms. Devi said,   “We hold our award celebrations in places where there is an established history of the transformational impact of arts and culture.” She added, “The cities of South Africa including Cape Town, have a rich cultural heritage, and a complexity of issues that form part of the fascinating history of social change in South Africa. This makes Cape Town a fitting choice as the place to celebrate the courage and creativity of the participants of the 2011 Freedom to Create Prize.”

The Prize is open to artists from all creative fields. The Prize money of US$100,000 is awarded across two prize categories, Main and Imprisoned Artist. This year’s Prize attracted more than 2000 entries from over 145 countries, including 56 entrants from South Africa.

The 50 shortlisted artists include the outspoken Chinese installation artist Ai Weiwei who was imprisoned for this criticism of the Chinese government, defected former North Korean propaganda artist Song Byeok, artists involved in the Arab Spring, including musician Ramy Essam from Egypt whose song became the anthem of the anti-Mubarak protests in Cairo and Ayat Al-Gormezi, a 20-year-old poet from Bahrain who was imprisoned and tortured for reading her anti-government poem in public, and Yahya Abdelkarim, an refugee poet raising awareness about the atrocities of Darfur, from South Sudan, which gained independence in July 2011.

Four entries from South Africa made the shortlist: World Press Photo winner David Chancellor’s pictures showcasing the benefits of Anti-Retroviral Treatment, visually impaired British artist Rachel Gadsden’s work with the Bambanani Group in Khayelitsha, which helps their members come to terms with their HIV diagnosis through creativity, the Remix Dance Company, bringing together able and disabled performers to share a message of unity, and Deborah Shipley and Xoliswa Sithole’s film ‘The Lost Girls of South Africa’, which allowed South African girls to speak out against sexual abuse. The film is to be premiered during the Freedom to Create film screening at the Labia, on 20 November.

The shortlist also includes Sister Fa, a female rapper from Senegal who campaigns against the practice of female genital mutilation, Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin, filmmakers who interviewed the Khmer Rouge perpetrators from Cambodia, National Geographic photographer Stephanie Sinclaire’s documentation of the suffering of children in various countries who were forced into child marriage, Invisible Children’s graphic art project reaching out to the children kidnapped from their homes by Joseph Kony’s Lords Resistance Army to become child soldiers in Central African Republic, outspoken reggae musicians, Wanlov Kubolor from Ghana,  3 Meters Away from Yemen and De Bruces a Mi from Colombia, Egyptian-American comedian Ahmed Ahmed’s stand up show and film Just Like Us, aimed at dispelling stereotypes about the Middle East and District Unknown, an underground heavy metal band from Afghanistan.

A number of entries from the 2011 Freedom to Create Prize will be showcased at an open air exhibition that will be held at the Company’s Garden. The exhibition will remain open for the public from 17 November until 18 December 2011, before embarking on a global tour.

Freedom to Create Exhibitions combine powerful artworks with important messaging and are a physical manifestation of how creativity is being used to influence social change around the world. “Central to our work is the belief that communities themselves hold the power to creatively address and find solutions to the issues that our exhibitions bring to light”, says Priti Devi.

Previous Freedom to Create Exhibitions have been held in London, New York, Harare, Kabul, Cairo, Mumbai, Sarajevo and Xiamen where the exhibition has enjoyed tremendous success and acclaim.


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