Not far from Nelson Mandela’s home village of Qunu, and where he currently lives on South Africa’s Eastern Cape, a new cultural regeneration project is taking shape. In the very region where strong-minded men collaborated to lead a nation out from under a shroud of hatred and segregation, Ryder Architecture, the Dodgy Clutch theatre company, regional political leaders, and the local community in the Tyhume Valley have come together to plan the construction of a new community theatre.

The theatre project was conceived out of the desire to spark a local cultural renaissance. As is the case in most rural areas, the population of the Tyhume Valley is diminishing as opportunities for employment and higher standards of living increase in urban centres. The local community hopes the project will inspire and motivate people to stay and benefit from the positive cultural and social experiences a theatre may provide.

The fabrication of the theatre is “a real two-way exchange of knowledge. The team will be learning about local construction techniques and materials and working with the community to deliver a sustainable facility that will benefit the area for years to come,” said Peter Buchan of Ryder Architecture. “Cultural-led regeneration projects like this can kick-start and inspire dramatic growth and this project has the potential to demonstrate what is possible for similar communities across South Africa.” - Andrew J Wiener

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