The Heideveld Theatre Company (HTC) claims that a partnership they had with to use the facility for practices, has been dishonoured, and they found themselves locked out of the facility.
Founder of the HTC, Joeline Daniels, said since they were denied access last year, and she has had to resort to training the children of her programme in the street in front of her home.
She also said that since this development, some of the children had been robbed, as her home is quite a distance from where most of them live.
Ward 44 councillor, Anthony Moses, however, said HTC did not have a recognised partnership with the City of Cape Town, and that Ms Daniels left on her own.
Ms Daniels explained that she started using the community centre four years ago.
“I used to be based in Bridgetown, but because most of the children could not afford the travel costs, I moved over to Heideveld. I also do not charge the children to be part of the HTC. I had a partnership with one of the staff members at the community centre. When this staff member was transferred, all of a sudden we were locked out,” she said.
During that time, Ms Daniels was on a break for a few months after giving birth, and she said she received calls from the children to say they were locked out.
“We were told we cannot access the premises and that we had no right to it. I have since applied to the City, but they want us to pay. I tried to use the library, but there are a lot of programmes happening there, and they could not always accommodate us. We then practised outside the community centre, but they chased us away. The children are so hungry for the arts. Our community is very nice and supportive. My main concern is for the safety of the children, however. We practise here in the road, sometimes until 7pm on a Friday night, and on their way home they get robbed.”
Ms Daniels added that some of the children come from challenging home circumstances, and that she is trying to do something good for her community.
She said they not only teach them dance, but also life skills.
Despite not having a proper practice venue, they still managed to take part in the big festivals around Cape Town, she said. This included events hosted at the Waterfront amphitheatre, and they were part of the Cape Town Carnival.
“I am also creating leaders within the group, so when I am not available, one of them takes charge. We are also excited about our upcoming Youth Day festival,” Ms Daniels said.
According to Mr Moses, the HTC must have an agreement with the City, and not a staff member of the community centre.
“Her group was able to use the facility, but the informal agreement was to assist her until she can become sustainable. She also cannot use the facility with a sense of entitlement. There are other organisations using the facility as well. She needed to come at a certain time, but she did not stick to the schedule. Nobody chased her out, she left herself. At one point a youngster headed the group.
“The City has a new regularisation policy, and she needs to set up a partnership with the City. A staff member of the community centre cannot make a decision – it is up to the superiors to decide, once they received all the paperwork,” Mr Moses said.