What Is Streetopia?
It’s a free one-day event organised and funded by AfrikaBurn in collaboration with residents residents & civic organisations based in Observatory, where the streets are filled with art, sculpture, mutant vehicles, performance, music and market stalls. It doesn’t feature big-name acts, or the kind of heavily-branded big stages you might find at other festivals.
Rather, for one day the streets of Obs are turned into a blank canvas where artists, performers, buskers, residents and kids can enjoy the open spaces and do their thing. The aim is to keep it villagey, intimate, spontaneous, open to collaboration, a space for causes and social activism – and completely free.
When is Streetopia?
It usually takes place on the last Saturday of November, but our 2018 event was on Saturday 1st of December. Since 2017, the official schedule runs from 10am to 6pm.
Why just one day? And why finish so early?
Once upon a time… Obs had a great community-based festival named ObsFest. Our event isn’t associated with it, but (and because) it met its demise by starting out small as a fundraiser for the Obs Library in 1998, and became a big-name sponsored behemoth that began to attract very large and quite drunken crowds, and ended badly.
With that in mind, Streetopia’s intention is to avoid those pitfalls, so it can benefit and be part of the community it happens in. Whether it’s big-brand sponsorship, drunk student crowds or hood-wrecking kak vibes, we just don’t want to go there – because many of those involved live in Obs and want it to maintain the diverse and colourful village reputation it has rightly earned.
So the reason for an early close (and the lack of large stages with ‘big name headline acts’ and performers) is to ensure that Streetopia remains a family-friendly event which benefits the neighbourhood and so that its schedule provides enough time for the crew and volunteers to clean the area and remove all decor and installations, leaving it in a better state than it was found.
Where does the event take place?
In 2018, the event area is within 3 main areas in central Observatory, Cape Town:
– Obs Village Green (Station Rd & surrounds)
– Lower Main Rd from Station Rd to St Michael’s Rd
– Lower Main Rd from Station to Norfolk Rd
Apart from these main areas, a number of activities take place at participating art studios, cafés and restaurants throughout Obs. To get info on these, check out our Event Guide, which is released one day before our event date and is also available throughout the event area for free.
(see our map below for the precise areas and roads subject to closure)
How much does it cost?
It’s 100% free – and always will be – but it costs a large amount to keep it free. As a non-profit community based event that relies heavily on community participation and the spirit of volunteering, nobody’s looking to make any money from the event – but it does still cost a lot to stage it. If you’d like to know more about the costs and logistics involved or would like to support Streetopia with funding, please check out our Donate page.
Who organises It? And why?
AfrikaBurn (the organisation that holds an annual arts event each year in the Tankwa Karoo) has its offices in the area, and has long been interested in practicing their desert experiment in town. As such, the event was organised for the first time in 2015 through the collaboration of AfrikaBurn, the Obs Civic Association, OBSID and a range of artists and NGO’s based in Obs – as well as with the participation of residents from Obs and surrounding suburbs such as Salt River, Woodstock, Mowbray and Rosebank.
This collaboration will continue – and preference in terms of contributing activities (and also in terms of the market stalls) will always be afforded to residents of these areas, in order to ensure the event is accessible to those who live closest to the event area. It’s a community and family affair.
Streetopia is a non-profit event: all involved are simply enthused to gather community together and fill Obs with creativity and family-friendly activities – and if the result is social cohesion, then that’s a job well done.
How Is It Funded?
In 2015, AfrikaBurn provided seed funding to the tune of R106 000. Since 2016 the model for funding has been to request support from businesses in Observatory that benefit directly from increased sales on the day of the event and donations from interested parties such as civic organisations. In addition, a portion of funding is raised each year from rentals for market stalls at the event.
In 2016, the City of Cape Town provided baseline support for event essentials that was in addition to the R100 000 provided by AfrikaBurn and funds collected from supporting businesses in and around Observatory. 2017’s event again saw support from the City of Cape Town, and for the 2018 event, the National Lottery Commission has provided a portion of funding. The event is looking forward to strengthening relations with all stakeholders as it grows and becomes an integrated feature of Observatory’s annual calendar of highlights.
[29 Nov 2018] To date, the event has cost R408 000, give or take a few cable ties.
For more info on this aspect of the event, see the Info For Obs-Based Businesses section of this page.