Property Flash


August 3 2023

Cape Town’s night-time economy is on the rebound post Covid-19, and is being boosted by First Thursday, the monthly arts, culture and food event.

On the first Thursday of each month, Capetonians visit art galleries, museums, destination eateries and other businesses.

With most of the CBD’s art galleries open until 20h00, the monthly event continues to sustain interest in the local art and cultural scene, while stimulating the city centre economy through the cold winter months.

First Thursdays, the brainchild of co-founder Gareth Pearson of Thursdays Projects, was suspended for five months in 2020 because of the pandemic but has taken place every month since then.

Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) CEO Tasso Evangelinos said the event gives office workers who work in town, and other Capetonians, the opportunity to enjoy downtime in the Central City and experience its dynamic offering.


The Cape Town CBD, which is home to the Iziko South Africa Gallery, enjoys a thriving art sector, with Africa’s largest contemporary art fair, the Investec Cape Wown Art Fair, which takes place annually in its footprint at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on the Foreshore.

in 2022 the art fair welcomed 23 000 visitors back to the CTICC, showcasing a spectacular hybrid event with 99 exhibitors from 20 different countries, including 17 first-time participants. Art fair director Laura Vincenti said the return of the three-day physical event offered “some reprieve and restoration for the global art community”.

In 2023, the art fair celebrated its 10th edition.

“We welcomed over 25 000 visitors, including 6 700 VIPs, 106 exhibitors from 18 countries, making it the largest edition yet,” said Vincenti.

Evangelinos said the event proved to be a drawcard, attracting local and international visitors to Cape Town and the CBD.

“The 2023 Art Fair was a resounding success, generating significant investment for our city centre and turning the world’s gaze on the CBD art scene, as well as that of the greater Cape Town metropole and beyond. It demonstrates the resilience of the sector and the strong demand for art, despite the difficulty of the last few years. The art economy is an important sector and must be nurtured,” he said.


First Thursdays energises the sector and attracts interest.

“First Thursdays injects energy into the whole CBD, across the hospitality and arts sectors. It plays a pivotal role in demonstrating that our city centre is open for business. As the CCID, we’re committed to keeping the CBD crime-and-grime free, so it’s a safe and attractive crucible for these gatherings. We want to give our local talent every opportunity to thrive and to provide visitors to town a stellar experience,” said Evangelinos.

In 2022, according to the State of Cape Town Central City Report 2022 – A year in review, which is published by the CCID, six new galleries opened in the CBD, bringing the total number of galleries in town to 29.


CBD gallerists said First Thursdays made a significant contribution to the survival of small galleries trying to keep their doors open in an unfavourable economic climate, and has stimulated the return of the art economy in the city centre.

Linda Pyke, director of THK Gallery said First Thursdays “allows the community to meet each other in person, have conversations, and connect with people, which is as important as the art itself. Our involvement in First Thursdays allowed us to meet new collectors and emerging artists and engage in even greater conversations, which has grown us from strength to strength”.

Georgia Stonehouse, Gallery Manager at 99 Loop Gallery said First Thursdays brought more eyes to local art, with engagement from local and international visitors.


The SA Cultural Observatory calculated that in 2020, the visual arts and crafts of the broader creative sector contributed R23.4bn to the South African economy.

Since being named World Design Capital in 2014, followed by its inclusion, as Africa’s first City of Design, in UNESCO’s Global Cities Network, Cape Town has been recognised as an art centre and may just be Africa’s leading art capital.

First Thursdays Cape Town continues this evening.

Paid for editorial for CCID

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