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1st Annual Dwars River Valley Street Art Festival

The Dwars River Valley lies between the popular Winelands towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. It is home to Pniel, Kylemore, Johannesdal and Lanquedoc, historic towns rich in heritage and culture and stories.

While thousands drive by these towns daily, very few stop.

A new initiative called the Dwars River Escape Route, an association of tourism and related stakeholders has been working on a way to change this. They have developed a refreshing approach to establishing the valley as a new centre of the Winelands.

On the 25th and 26th of August this year, the Dwars River Escape Route is staging its first annual Street Art Competition.

“The Street Art Competition is a key part of changing the way people experience the valley,” says Escape Route treasurer and Valley entrepreneur Yvonne Carolissen.

“The idea,” says Escape Route chairperson and a tour operator in the valley, Winston Stubbs, “is to grab people’s attention. If the main problem with tourism to our towns in the valley is getting people to stop, then street art provides a solution: once people stop, the layers open up, and around the street art we are building an ecosystem that includes home restaurants serving traditional meals paired with wines from the valley, tours, homestays and other unique valley offerings.”

Seventy per cent of the finalists in the competition are from the towns in the Dwars River Valley, with the balance coming from other parts of Cape Town including Woodstock, Mitchells Plain and Eerste Rivier. The youngest participant is 13 years old. The project coordinator is Woodstock based artist Jason Redman, aka Dfeat Once, and he is joined by three well-known graffiti artists Mak1One, The Street is the Gallery, and Ello. These featured artists will conduct workshops with the finalists, assist and guide the less experienced participants, and create their own works.

The competition outcome will be a series of 15 works across the valley that together tell a cohesive story. This is the 1st in a what is planned to be a three-year annual project.

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About the Dwars River Escape Route: Over the course of 2016, members of the Escape Route created their Vision 2020 plan, a unique approach that saw them envisioning what the Valley should look like by 2020, and then worked backwards to create the steps necessary to realise this vision. The Vision 2020 includes a Tasting Centre, a range of unique tours, a homestay hotel, cycling routes, a monthly market, and the annual Street Art Competition. The Escape Route is being supported over a three year period by tourism route development agency Open Africa, with funds from the European Union. Project mentorship is provided by specialist tour company Coffeebeans Routes.

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