WHO WE ARE
The BAT Centre is an art development and community center located within the small Craft Harbour off Durban’s Victoria Embankment. It contains a number of retail outlets, a restaurant, bar and large hall fitted with sound and lighting equipment. There are large art studios, a number of exhibition galleries, music practice rooms, a dance studio, resource center and a conference room. A computer shop, repair and training service and offices for independent arts organizations complete the picture.
It is located close to the high-density residential areas of the CBD and is within easy walking distance of all major cultural, tourists and transport nodes of the City.
The view from its terrace are the most stunning in Durban which, when complimented by the music concerts over the weekends, have become legendary for the local and visitors alike.
It strives to achieve these aims by making spaces, teaching skills and equipment available. Furthermore it initiates cultural exhibitions and creates markets for artists via the various arts shops, music, theatre and dance venues.
- To celebrate the arts and culture of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa by promoting local talent and skills, celebrate our unique cultures and encouraging cross-fertilization.
- To create jobs for the artists by sourcing talent, imparting skills and developing markets.
- To act as a community cultural centre the city of Durban, the people of the harbour and the Esplanade.
- To become a resource to out-lying art &cultural centres;and creative people.
The BAT Centre Trust is a private trust dedicated to impacting on the cultural life of South Africa by nurturing and promoting the vibrant music, arts, theatre, craft, film and literature of KwaZulu-Natal. In so doing, the BAT Centre aims to generate work for artists, to build new markets for the arts and their support industries and to contribute to the local economy by attracting domestic and international tourists to Durban Metro and its innovative and exciting facility situated in the Durban harbour.
The BAT Centre has its roots in the Bartel Arts Trust, which was started in 1992 from a legacy left by the eccentric Hugo Bartel. Bartel, an Austrian entrepreneur and adventurer, arrived in South Africa in 1956 after having traveled from Tunisia by car. By the time he passed away in 1992 he had amassed a small fortune through a successful electrical engineering business and by dabbling in the stock market. He bequeathed a sum a money in his will to establish an arts trust and appointed two trustees to see his dream through – Paul Mikula, a renowned Durban architect and Dick Breytenbach, a senior partner at Shepstone and Wylie.
A research project was commissioned by the trust in 1993, to establish the best usage for the funds available. The focus of this study was to identify the primary needs of the artistic community of the greater Durban. The research revealed that these were easy access to space, infrastructure and equipment and access to an audience. The trustees then decided to establish a multi-purpose centre for the arts and in June of 1994, a tender was submitted to the National Ports Authority for the ex navy building in the small craft harbour – the SAS Inkonkoni building. The lease was officially signed on the 1st January 1995 and so the BAT Centre was born. The Bartel Arts Trust was involved with the BAT Centre until 2000. The centre then formed a trust of its own, the BAT Centre Trust, which is now responsible for the continued operations of the centre.
In the decade of its existence the BAT Centre has had a major impact on the cultural life of the people of Durban. Countless local and international musicians have graced the stages at the BAT and the centre has hosted a number of music festivals. The Artists in Action Residency Programme has been operational since 2001 and has produced tangible results. Several cultural evenings, related to some of the international conferences hosted in Durban, have been held at the BAT Centre and the centre has gained the reputation as an excellent vehicle for showcasing new talent and creating much needed employment for artists and musicians. The centre has hosted a variety of other events, from fashion shows and drumming evenings to spoken word festivals and workshops. The BAT Centre can be considered to be a truly unique venue and destination. However, in the interests of continued improvement, the centre has devised a strategic marketing plan for 2005.
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