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11 continued Actress television presenter voice artist motivational speaker writer and former senior manager of UJ Arts Culture Rita van den Heever was the driving force behind a vison realised in bricks and mortar as the UJ Arts Centre on the Kingsway campus of the University of Johannesburg UJ. We asked her how it all began. Context is a beautiful thing. It gives meaning brings understanding and indicates the way forward. I will try give context to the establishment and growth of what has become UJ Arts Culture. At my appointment interview in November 1996 the Rector of the former Rand Afrikaans University RAU Professor JC van der Walt asked me if it would be possible to market the University to the public as a centre for the arts. Of course I answered yes and of course there was not that much to market. There was a vibrant student cultural life most of it based on inter-house rivalry but hardly the stuff of higher cultural experience. The RAU Choir was doing great work but stood as a lone voice in the market we hoped to target. And the RAU Art Gallery was hosting exhibitions of variable quality. To fulfill our promise and our mandate RAU Arts Culture had to create and establish more arts activities of quality. We started with the Sundowner Concerts in 1997 hosting them in the Art Gallery. We were fortunate to find a sponsor in Foodcorp that for many years supported chamber music in Johannesburg in this way until such time as the University took over that duty. These concerts immediately gave us marketing clout. By giving a platform to the leading classical musicians we offered the public some brilliant performances bringing a whole new audience on to campus and also showcasing the new cutting edge exhibitions now hosted in the gallery. Then it was time to establish the arts companies starting in 1998. As the University did not offer performing arts as an academic option we stepped into the breach by identifying students with exceptional talent in this field and offering them training on an ongoing basis by some of the leading exponents in the field. The results were breathtaking. Through the Song Dance Company the Drama Company and the Dance Company we gave training to about 60 students annually. These companies quickly developed into drawcards for talented students who wanted to pursue other fields of study but who still wanted to be involved in the arts. And the productions they were involved in drew the public audiences we were looking for. At the same time a whole new artistic dynamic was at work on campus offering students the opportunity to experience great theatre on their campus performed by their fellow students. In the choice of works we were always mindful of not choosing the easy safe options but to put challenging and thought provoking works on stage. This was sometimes a challenge in itself as there are only a handful of music theatre works that fall into this genre. Dramas often have small casts and we needed works for large casts. But we found them. CONTEXT IS A BEAUTIFUL THING. IT GIVES MEANING BRINGS UNDERSTANDING AND INDICATES THE WAY FORWARD Left The UJ Arts Centre is born Photo Jan Potgieter