Design faux pas embarrasses City of Cape Town Mayoral Tourism, Events and Marketing’s Pascoe

City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing Grant Pascoe must feel like a prize fool, having had his name splashed in the Cape Times, on two consecutive days, about the faux pas of the threatened cancellation of the funding support for the Design Indaba and Cape Town Fashion Week.  After a major outcry, the City has reversed its decision.

On Monday it was reported that the ’embarrassment‘ and ‘possible PR nightmare’ caused by the City’s funding cut of these two prime events could be a serious threat to the bid by Cape Town for World Design Capital 2014, especially given that respected Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo had been on the presentation programme for the Design Capital judges’ visit.  Valuable tourism income generated as a result of the Design Indaba, which sees the world’s leading designers coming to Cape Town to attend the annual conference linked to the Design Indaba, was threatened by the funding cut, as it was planned to move Design Indaba to Johannesburg as a result.  Intervention was made by the Cape Town Partnership, compilers of the 18-month long World Design Capital 2014 bid for Cape Town, addressed to Mayor Patricia de Lille, calling the funding cut a ‘possible crisis’.  “Just as we are preparing the final push for World Design Capital 2014, and literally drafting the mayor’s speech for Taipei on 26 October, the city seems to be sending out the message that it is cancelling its support for design and creative industries”, Cape Town Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine wrote.  R700000 is allocated to the Design Indaba annually by the City.  ‘Inspiration’, and linked to it design and creativity, are the pillars of Cape Town Tourism’s new positioning for Cape Town.

Yesterday the Cape Times reported that the red-faced Pascoe blamed the funding cut on a ‘misunderstanding about the city’s sponsorship of the Design Indaba and Cape Town Fashion Council (or Fashion Week)’, and stated that the City would find funding for both the events.  Letters announcing the funding cuts had been sent to the two design bodies ‘in error’, and have now been withdrawn, he is quoted as saying, with an apology from the City for the confusion caused.  He did, however, add that the full events portfolio will be reviewed in the next two months, to ‘bring them in line with the (unexplained) city’s mandate‘.

The Design Indaba and Cape Town Fashion Week have been estimated to contribute more than R500 million to the economy of Cape Town.

One hopes that Pascoe will review the effectiveness of the City of Cape Town’s R40 million expenditure by Cape Town Tourism too, some of which appears to be going to sponsoring wasteful events with dubious tourism benefits for the city, and the appointment of Australian ‘Strategetic Consultants’ to help it do its marketing work. Pascoe has declined all correspondence from ourselves on this topic by e-mail, has not returned phone calls, nor has he reacted to Twitter messages, making one wonder what interests he has to protect.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: Twitter: @WhaleCottage

3 replies on “Design faux pas embarrasses City of Cape Town Mayoral Tourism, Events and Marketing’s Pascoe”

  1. I vaguely remember seeing headlines to this effect in recent days, so I am glad to read an account of it. It seems as if a disaster has been averted – thank goodness. In terms of the public servant who is avoiding your communications – a word of encouragement. During a conversation with a Zimbabwean newspaper owner ( now living in CT) I posed the question: ” many have speculated that like Zimbabwe post independence, South Africa could find itself on the slippery downward slope.What do you think?” To which she replied: “Not if civil society continues to let its voice be heard. Once the voice of civil society is lost, then you know you are on a slippery slope” AND IN THE LIGHT OF THAT – I would say – Nice work – keep it up. We as civil society need to challenge those mandated to serve the public and public interests.

  2. Thank you for your comment Rose.

    If the Cape Town Partnership had not placed pressure at the highest level (i.e. Mayor de Lille), the funding cut would have been fait accompli, and the World Design Capital 2014 bid for Cape Town might have been at risk! It does make one wonder how a significant error like this could have happened.


  3. David Snoek says:

    Well said Rose.
    We, as civil society need to monitor(with a damn good magnifying glass)those mandated to serve the public and public interests. This one nearly slipped between the cup and the lip.

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