EThekwini Municipality has increased its financial support of the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal to R4 million per year for the next three years.
The money will be used for the Time of the Writer Festival, the Durban International Film Festival, the Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival and Poetry Africa.
The council has also worked closely with the CCA on this year’s event to ensure that those living in the townships around Durban are included in the festival.
Speaking at the opening of the 19th Time of the Writer Festival at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on Monday evening, Councillor Mbuyiselwa Sibiya, said: “Libraries around the city are now an integral part of the festival programme, allowing us to bring writers into libraries.
“We hope through this collaboration inspire people to love reading and in some cases to become authors themselves.”
Sibiya also revealed that the municipality had set up two mobile libraries to service those living in rural areas; had opened a library in Inchanga in 2015; and were building three new libraries in the next five years to provide pupils with much needed study areas and resources.
The city’s infrastructure programme is supported by the Department of Arts and Culture. Rejoice Mabudafhasi, National Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, said the government had set aside R3 billion betwen 2014 and 2017 for its library infrastructure programme.
She added that in KwaZulu-Natal alone nine new libraries had been built and another nine upgraded.
Mabudafhasi added: “These infrastructure programmes take time, however, so where we see it is important to have a library we work with municipalities to have mobile libraries and what is inside [those libraries] is the same as what is in the libraries in the city.
“We must encourage the community to use them… Libraries are not just for academics and students but the whole community… libraries are vital tools for self empowerment especially for those who cannot afford to buy books.”
Durban’s libraries will also be benefiting from donations of new books. The council is planning to buy two copies of each book written by the participating writers, which will be distributed across the 92 libraries in Durban and surrounding areas.; and in partnership with the Etisalat Prize for Literature 1000 books were donated to libraries on Tuesday, March 15.