Creating new spaces and new ‘publics’ in towns

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Tayla Damons wants to shout out to the world: “I’m from Oudtshoorn.” But it hasn’t always been that way. The past six months have changed her, she says, poetically describing the project responsible for her new emotional connection: “Being part of this visual arts team is like hearing a beat and one day I started versing on it. They have given me new eyes to look at things. Suddenly (the town) is not just dust: I can put shape, colours and words on it, and create a whole picture.”

Damons, a young woman from Bridgton, is part of an oral history project called Karoo Kaarte (Karoo Map) which culminated at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) held in Oudtshoorn in March. Curated and facilitated by visual artist Vaughn Sadie and theatre-maker Neil Coppen, the team includes local writers, arts leaders, educators and young people from neighbouring De Rust, Dysselsdorp, Bridgton, Bongolethu and Central Oudtshoorn to, according to the facilitators, “collectively reflect on their sense of place and belonging in the different regions they reside in, while collectively imagining a more inclusionary future vision of Oudtshoorn”.

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