2020 stripped people of so much – a year that ripped opportunity, love, health and careers apart, with untamed viciousness. To say that 2020 was tiresome, would be a gross oversimplification – but tiredness and days devoid of light seem to be what people are still carrying with them into 2021.
One of my favourite Cape Town haunts has finally decided to pay respect to the perseverance of many, and the loss of so much, with a solidarity initiative that brightens the spirits and streets in equal measure. You, reading this right now, have triumphed over immense tribulations this past year, and now the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront welcomes you to remember the fallen, pay homage to the greats who work tirelessly at the frontlines, connect safely under this Tribute of light concept, and look to the future with hope & light.
Our Worlds Together…Apart
How the V&A Waterfront has been creating safe ways for people to connect even when keeping distance?
The dawn of 2021 is preceded by months of global upheaval, extended moments of isolation, and change that few of us could predict or control. The world has been through much collectively, and with a new year lying ahead, the V&A Waterfront is ready to contribute to humanity’s attempts to restore hope in a meaningful way. The pandemic and its effects on our lives has yet to subside and now more than ever, we feel a need to connect – yet due to necessary restrictions, connecting is harder than ever. As one of the Cape’s celebrated draws, that now more than ever considers itself a working part of attempts at social cohesion, the V&A waterfront has been creating the means to ensure that even though we are apart, we’re still able to feel connected.
A tribute to light and hope
At midnight on the 31st of December 2020 the V&A shone a light of hope from the precinct, which, on clear nights, is visible throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. The beam, which consists of 36 vertical searchlights, forms part of the Waterfronts’ Tribute of Light and Hope – symbolising the lives that were lost, the jobs that were affected, the coming together of a nation in solidarity and ultimately for hope in the new year.
“We are using the symbolic warmth of light to draw us to a moment to connect, even though we are physically apart, and hope everyone who sees it takes the time to contemplate on themes of compassion, solidarity, connection, inspiration, and collaborations we have been able to demonstrate and experience during a very uncertain period. New Year’s Eve will mark the first time in the V&A Waterfront’s 30-year history, that we won’t see crowds converging in our neighbourhood for the traditional countdown to a fireworks display at midnight to usher in the New Year”David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront
Creating a safe shopping experience
Covid-19 Management protocols at the Waterfront have remained in place throughout with the wearing of masks mandatory throughout the neighbourhood. In August last year, the Waterfront became the first attraction in South Africa to adopt the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Safe Travels stamp protocols. This is the world’s first-ever global safety and hygiene stamp for Travel & Tourism, designed specifically to address COVID-19 and similar outbreaks.
“As a responsible corporate citizen, the Waterfront does everything within our capability to maintain a safe environment. And we can offer visitors this assurance. All our retailers, restaurants, attractions and activations will continue to maintain health-and-safety protocols by adhering to proper hygiene, social distancing and appropriately limiting capacity inside closed spaces. We have also invested in tools such as touchless parking and offer a drive-through COVID-19-testing facility,” says David.
Supporting buskers throughout lockdown
The V&A Waterfront is home to Cape Town’s vibrant and talented busker community, and for over 20 years has provided them with a regular public platform to perform and earn a living, as well as providing programmes for training, mentoring and developing their craft. Since the lockdown in 2020, the V&A has continued providing financial support to buskers to cover the loss of earnings from passing visitors.
Working with local musicians for Goodnight Friday
One of the ways in which the V&A created a platform for connection while apart as well as showing support for its busker community was by hosting a series of live-streamed music concerts called Good Night Fridays. Over six months, the concerts streamed the best of South African talent including the likes of Youngsta CPT, Zolani Mahola, Lady Zamar and many others, to us, in the comfort of our homes. While the concert was free, the Waterfront asked viewers and fans to consider making a donation to its busker community who were doing without income during the coronavirus lockdown. All funds raised went to the Busker Relief Fund.
Sustainability, collaboration, creativity and compassion remain the foundation of the V&A Waterfront’s reaction to the global pandemic. The beam of light which lit up the Waterfront skyline for an hour at midnight on 31 December 2020 will continue to shine daily for an hour at 21h00 until the 6th of January reminding us that connection is still possible in the absence of physical proximity.