Management of what has become a Cape Town highlight – the city’s annual military tattoo – has to rethink the future in the light of an ever-shrinking defence budget.
“A partnership with the private sector has to be considered if we want to continue with the Cape Town Military Tattoo,” said organising committee member Lieutenant Colonel Philip Coetzer.
“The future of the Cape Town Military Tattoo is based on building discerning audiences, constantly improving the quality of the performances and following an all-inclusive approach to incorporate other cultural performing groups, bands, choirs, dance groups and musicians.
“The development of institutional and individual capacity will be prioritised by taking the tattoo to the people to engender support and appreciation for a military culture in communities and areas where newly recruited tattoo participants will be active.
“It’s all about protecting and promoting traditional knowledge and cultural expression. I see it as part of shaping the future of Western Cape through the magic and splendour of tattoos,” he said.
The tattoo this year marks its 10th anniversary with performances starting today and going through to Saturday every evening at 7.45pm in the Castle of Good Hope.
Asked what can be expected from the 2015 edition of the tattoo, Coetzer said the performance starts with a recreation of the 16th century when the Castle gates will be closed followed by beating the drummer’s call and the key ceremony, performed by a select squad of the Castle Guard, dressed in old-time uniforms of the halberdiers.
“This will be followed by performances from some of South Africa’s finest military and pipe bands, among them the SA Army Band Cape Town, SA Military Health Services as well as the SA Navy and SA Air Force bands. Among the pipe bands will be those of the Cape Town Highlanders Drums and Pipes, Cape Field Artillery Pipes and Drums, Knysna and Districts Pipes and Drums, and Algoa Caledonian Pipes and Drums.”
In terms of new additions to the tattoo menu, Coetzer names Irish singer Cloee Agnew, a former member of the group Celtic Women; War Horse; the Wupperthal Rieldansers and a Pakistan military band.
Other acts to look out for include one by Charlie Company of 3 Parachute Battalion, a gun run by sea cadets, the Chris Hani Choir and a string quartet from the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
Each performance ends with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture complete with thunderous fire from the Cape Field Artillery’s saluting troop and the final muster with the spotlight on the lone pipe atop the Castle roof.
“Until now the tattoo has been arranged and presented by a team of Regular and Reserve Force members of the SANDF. The majority of funding has come from the defence force with support from the City of Cape Town and the tattoo’s own supporters group,” Coetzer said adding “a strategic plan” had been developed to ensure the event’s future.
“We are in consultation with senior SANDF leaders and are confident the tattoo will continue.”