‘This screen-printed banner was made for the launch of the Cultural Workers Congress at the University of Cape Town in 1988. The banner was later printed in one of the organisation’s few newsletters, and this is a record of it in that form. The banner shows filmmakers, visual artists, dramatists, writers, dancers, musicians all coming to together for a common cause. In the late 1980s, there was a drive toward mobilising cultural workers as a sector, so you had people from different disciplines, institutions and projects all working together embracing the notion of ‘People’s Culture’.
‘This banner was drawn by Brett Murray. These kinds of banners and pamphlets were drawn by different people, but nobody took credit. People saw themselves as being part of a collective. In Mozambique at the time, Graça Machel, who was then Minister of Education, was saying that artists shouldn’t sign their work. If you talk to people who were there at the time, they’ll tell you how strong the arguments were up there for collectivised people’s culture. Artworks often weren’t acknowledged according to individual authorship. That was the ethos in Mozambique at the time. We didn’t have that to the same extent in South Africa, but there was a spirit of collective action in these cultural organisations.
‘The CWC was strongly connected to the Congress of South African Writers (COSAW), which was the most powerful cultural organisation nationally. In addition to establishing active links to other other cultural organisations nationally, the CWC gave people new social reference points beyond the spatial limits that had been imposed on them by apartheid.’ – Mario Pissarra