Georgina Thomson, Dance Umbrella artistic director, has added another award to her trophy cabinet.
At a ceremony at the French Embassy in Pretoria last week the Dance Umbrella artistic director received a medal of the French Order of Arts and Letters from the French Ambassador, honouring her for tireless promotion of artistic and cultural exchanges between South Africa and France.
Thomson, awarded the Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Officer of the Order of the Arts & Literature), with Gregory Vuyani Maqoma of Vuyani Dance Theatre, who received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of the Arts & Literature) accepted the award from the Ambassador of France to South Africa, Mr H.E. Christophe Farnaud.
“On behalf of the Government of the Republic of France and by virtue of the authority vested in me, I have the honour and pleasure, Madame Thomson, by decree of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, to bestow upon you the title of Officer of the Order of Arts and Literature (de vous faire Officier des Arts et des Lettres).”
The ceremony recognised the contributions to the contemporary dance sector of both Thomson and Maqoma, as they were added to The Order of Arts and Literature (l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres), a French decoration of honour established in 1957, given by the French Ministry of Culture to recognise individuals who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts and who have made significant contributions to the arts and/or literature in France and throughout the world.
On presenting Thomson with the coveted award, Ambassador Farnaud praised her highly, “Georgina Thomson is one of the most well-known and highly respected South African arts administrators in this country and abroad. And thanks to her, artistic and cultural exchanges between South Africa and France have gone from strength to strength”.
“Your distinctive career journey was heightened by your courage, range of expertise and your travels around the world. You worked with artists from all societies and backgrounds – you broke boundaries to become a voice of those who were silenced. You managed to bridge the gap between international and local artists and in so doing created a network for local dance to connect internationally. By promoting the cultural exchange in performing arts through the Dance Umbrella Festival over the past 20 years, you are an exceptional example of determination and commitment,” he said.
A champion of contemporary dance and a woman of many achievements Thomson has other awards (local) under her belt – two Arts & Culture Trust award winner: Arts Administration (2001) and Arts Management (2007) and the prestigious Tunkie Award which she received in 2010.
For more than 30 years Thomson has played a significant role in growing the contemporary dance sector in South Africa; many South African dancers and choreographers owe the success of their local and international careers to her.
Despite facing many funding challenges Thomson has continued to present the annual Dance Umbrella festival.
“I am so grateful for this amazing award. I have worked very hard over the past 30 years and my time with Dance Umbrella has been an exciting, challenging and very gratifying experience. I hope to culminate this with the 30th Dance Umbrella in 2018“, Thomson said upon accepting the award.