This year, the Cape Town International Public Arts Festival focused on raising awareness of the mishandling of nature and more specifically, spreading messages that hit home about the impending “Day Zero” — a mark on the calendar when Cape Town is expected to run out of water and its four million residents will be required to collect daily water rations: less than seven gallons (25 liters) for each person.
For a long time now, Cape Town was expected to completely run out of water as the result of an extreme drought. In February of this year, Day Zero was pushed back to July. And then it was moved back once more to an indefinite date in 2019. The indefinite date seems appropriate given that while the people of Cape Town have been making positive efforts to conserve water and fight off a disaster, there’s still uncertainty about when and how the problem will ever actually be solved.
Jared Aufrichtig, an artist from Los Angeles, was one of the 35 artists in the International Public Arts Festival this year whose work helps the festival raise money and awareness to aid Cape Town’s fight against Day Zero. He created a public mural called “Water Into Gold” and leads youth development workshops, painting more murals with Cape Town’s kids.
“A change in the behaviour fundamentally starts in the mind,” the IPAF says about the festival and their Salt River School. “A small incremental change in the way we think spurs on an evidential change in our behaviour.”
The sentiment is pretty straightforward. Awareness through art can influence people to make the small, positive changes toward getting Cape Town out of their disastrous drought. It doesn’t put water in reservoirs but it can help keep South Africans focused on the changes they’ve had to make: cars don’t get washed, sidewalks aren’t hosed down, showers are kept under two minutes, and so on. All preservation efforts that have kept pushing that Day Zero date back further and further.
IPAF’s Salt River tours give visitors a history of the neighborhood and tours of the murals created by 70 different artists from around the world. Guests then learn a bit about each artist’s technique and the story behind their murals, just like Jared’s, followed by a workshop and meeting with the artist personally. All the revenue from the guided tours is then used to uplift children in the community through art education and raise more awareness for the people of Cape Town and their mission to fend off Day Zero.
Learn more about IPAF here.