Art & Design Feature

Curtain call as Soweto Theatre bids farewell to Nomsa Mazwai

May 10, 2021
Nomsa Mazwai

5 short years ago, Nomsa Mazwai was appointed as the General Manager of the Soweto Theatre. During those five years, she contributed to the profile of the art institution. Before COVID, Mazwai and her team had doubled attendance numbers to the theatre. This is no small feat, especially in the arts industry, where attracting audiences to theatre spaces, is a huge challenge. When asked how this was accomplished, Mazwai responds, ‘Partnerships with Soweto producers, existing client retention and collaborative marketing and promotion activities.’ 

Mazwai’s refreshing approach as an arts facility manager saw the theatre grow its outdoor eventing portfolio. This, after COVID, may come in handy as, even after we are vaccinated, it is unlikely that people will want to gather in huge numbers indoors. Mazwai endured the facility, leading a team of over 30 while also making a contribution towards the programming of the theatre. When asked what the best part of her job was, Mazwai responded “In terms of running the facility, my favourite part was doing the weekly walkabouts with the buildings and security team and monitoring the maintenance of the building. During my time, we planted lawns around our building and it became a regular practice for the entire team to clear and pick us. As a result, Soweto Theatre really is the diamond of Soweto. In terms of rentals, my favorite rental clients were my sisters. They both brought important performances to the space and paid full price! In terms of partnerships, Basadi Ka DiTuku has to be the most iconic.”

During her tenure, the Soweto Theatre also strengthened its set works program, which stages school set works and attracts audiences from schools. When asked about this program, Mazwai responded by saying, “I worked closely with the Community and Audience Development Manager Makhosazana Hlatsywayo to build this program, and while I’ll gladly take the credit, I must be honest, Khosi did most of the heavy lifting. Public entities such as the theatre, should strive to assist with nation building. Theatres, I think, make an important contribution to ensuring all learners access learning. Sometimes, a book is easier to understand when seen on stage.”

In closing, Mazwai remarks, “It was an honour and a privilege to work at the Soweto Theatre serving the people of Soweto. I was lead by two strong women – Xoliswa Nduneni Ngema my CEO; and Bridget Mashika my line manager. I grew as a leader under their stewardship and I will forever be grateful for the contribution they have made in developing me as a leader.’

Mazwai leaves the theatre to focus on building her own organisation #FunkItImWalking, which aims to make it safe enough for a woman to walk at any time of day in any condition. For further information on this organisation visit Funkitimwalking.co.za

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