Attracting new audiences: Youngblood Gallery and Biblioteek Productions

Attracting new audiences: Youngblood Gallery and Biblioteek Productions

Since last year, the Youngblood Gallery in Cape Town has presented a number of innovative concerts in collaboration with Biblioteek Productions. With another new concert series starting this month, we asked Marie Vogts (Youngblood Gallery) and Magdalene Minnaar (Biblioteek Productions) to tell us more.

How did Youngblood and Biblioteek Productions start their ongoing collaborations?

MV: We were introduced through a mutual colleague. Magdalene had an idea which she proposed and we had a space which was available and we realised that our vision to influence society through art and music was the same.

MM: I had been looking for a venue to do “dark” concerts for ages, and after meeting Marie I just knew that Youngblood was the perfect space. From there the rest is history - we now have 3 ongoing collaborations.

How do you think this contributes to the classical music scene in Cape Town?

MV: Due to the different environment that Youngblood offers in comparison to usual classical concerts, these collaborations expands the range of audience tremendously and the ‘In the dark’ series especially brings people back to truly listening to music.

MM:The fact that there is a cafe, and essentially a three story art gallery / exhibition space, completely alters the “classical” music experience. We also try to play with different audience formations, to give the listener a unique experience every time.

Which charities benefit from your collaborations?

MV: The In the dark concert series supports ‘Mercy Vision’ which is an arm of the organization ‘Mercy Ships’. ‘Mercy Vision’ aims to reduce the prevalence of blindness due to cataracts by building capacity in the local public eye care system. ‘In the dark’ goes hand in hand with this organization as the series also makes audiences aware of blindness by wearing blindfolds.

MM: Another series we started last year, called Little Maestros, brings moms and tots to the gallery to experience a classical music programme created for children; where they can run around, play instruments and listen to the music in their our way. It contributes a portion of ticket sales to a music project that Louisa Theart runs in Khayelitsha, teaching young children the fundamentals of classical music.

When do you present the concerts?

MV: In the Dark takes place once every quarter in the evenings. Little Maestros takes place on the first Tuesday of every month at 11am.

Which musicians have performed at the gallery to date?

MV: Quite a variety of artists, focusing mostly on emerging artists e.g. Maya Spector, Gareth Smit, Thandi Ntuli, Pravda, The Royal Commoners, Conscious Marimba Band, Stewart Gatsi, Lionel Bastos, Wendy Oldfield, Paul Abro, Neo Muyanga, to mention a few.

MM: Collaborating with Biblioteek Productions, we have seen established and upcoming classical musicians like Minette du Toit, Albie van Schalkwyk, David Bester, Nolovuyiso Mpofu, Makudupanyane Senaoana, Tertia Visser, Anna van der Merwe, Jose Dias and many more performing at our concerts.

Do you feel that you are attracting a new audience?

MM: One of the main focuses was to overcome the stigma that Classical concerts are only for an older generation. The profile of audiences attending these concerts currently are so diverse, therefore I feel we are definitely reaching our goal.

What else can audiences look forward to in 2015?

MM: We are thrilled to announce that a new concert series focusing on South African composers, Co/Mission, launches on Wednesday 18 February at 19h30.

For more information about events at the Youngblood Gallery, visit http://youngblood-africa.com/.

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