News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Thursday September 20th 2018

CAPE given six months to pay former arts director

Steve Kretzmann

Cape Africa Platform (CAPE) has six months to come up with the approximately R250 000 they owe to former arts director Gavin Jantjies. This follows CAPE conceding judgement to Jantjies’s claim in the Cape High Court on Wednesday.

CAPE, which organises one of the largest arts biennales in South Africa, don’t have the money at the moment, said CEO Mirjam Asmal-Dik, but would hopefully be able to pay Jantjies out in about May next year.

Jantjies intimated that should they fail pay him, or try avoid paying him, he would not hesitate to start liquidation proceedings.

Jantjies’s claim stemmed from CAPE’s ill-fated attempt to host their inaugural biennial, TRANS CAPE, in 2006.

According to Asmal-Dik, Norway-based Jantjies was contracted to curate the ambitious 2006 event and developed an exhibition which would have cost R11 million, a third of which involved paying for the transportation and insurance of international artist’s work.

“We couldn’t get that money…there was no chance,” said Asmal-Dik.

Instead, she said Jantjies was asked to work within a R2 – R3 million budget, which he refused to do.

“We should have told him then that it (his refusal) was a breach of contract,” she said, which would have forestalled Jantjies’s claim, or at least given them a much stronger legal case.

Jantjies said he refused to work with the much reduced budget as it would have forced him to produce sub-standard work and compromise his professionalism.

TRANS CAPE was subsequently postponed and eventually cancelled.

When the dust settled, Jantjies apparently still owed CAPE 25 days of work and he was owed R155 000 out of an agreed upon fee of R622 000, an amount CAPE agreed to settle in full as soon as outstanding Lotto funding amounting to R2,85 million, came through.

Asmal-Dik said despite waiving a counter-claim for the 25 work days owed, and reaching an agreement, a week after Jantjies returned to Norway she received a summons for the money.

Asmal-Dik said she admitted CAPE, and the board of directors, made a number of mistakes in dealing with Jantjies, but had always acted in good faith.

The result was that they had a weak legal case and their attempts to defend Jantjies’s claim of a breach of contract crumbled on Wednesday when Judge Lee Bozalek refused their application for a postponement, leading them to concede to judgement.

Commenting on Friday, Jantjies disputed Asmal-Dik’s assertion that they had offered to settle with him when CAPE received the outstanding Lotto funding in late 2007.

He said he had left after the 2006 TRANS CAPE fiasco on friendly terms, and had issued a summons for the money owed to him because he was advised not to return to Norway before ensuring the matter could be followed up via litigation if necessary.

However, he said he made it “very clear” that a settlement could be reached and the case would be withdrawn when he got paid.

His resolve to press through with litigation hardened, he said, when he was still not paid after discovering CAPE had received their outstanding Lotto funding.

“I would have dropped the claim, even dropped the legal fees,” he said.

“Now of course they have to face the music.”

Regarding the possibility of forcing CAPE to liquidate in order to pay him, he said if he discovered they continued to avoid paying him, he would “liquidate them in two seconds flat”. – West Cape News

Tags: art

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