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Funding: Before and After

Individuals and registered arts organisations involved in theatre or musical theatre, dance or choreography, music or opera, visual arts, craft, literature and multidiscipline projects were encouraged to submit their applications for project funding to the National Arts Council (NAC) between November and December 2014.

At the same time, post-graduate students and registered education and training institutions that are involved in studies or provide tuition in the fields of theatre, dance, crafts, literature, music and visual arts were also asked to submit applications for bursary funding. That invitation extended to students applying for Bachelor of Technology degrees in the arts. Applications invited were for individual post-graduate studies and block institution bursaries for undergraduate students who will be studying in South Africa during 2016.

Projects should be of national significance, focusing on the creation of new works, capacity development, and arts promotions – and on overall arts development. Those that have a strong community base and have been conceived in collaboration with others working in similar fields were also encouraged to apply.

Says NAC CEO Rosemary Mangope: ‘At the National Arts Council we are committed to changing the landscape of South Africa’s creative industries. Key to this transformation is not only supporting SA’s existing centres of arts excellence, but also identifying and fostering emerging talent nationwide – those organisations and individuals that will be our future standard-bearers for the arts, both nationally and internationally.

‘In our on-going efforts to ensure the arts are as inclusive as possible, we are particularly keen to encourage funding applications from arts organisations and individuals that support the involvement of women, youth and those living with disabilities. We also welcome applications from students who are not only interested in studying abroad, but also committed to returning to SA to share the knowledge and experience they have gained with their peers.’

Artists and students interested in applying for similar funding can find application forms online at or from the National Arts Council office (Tel: 011 838 1383).

Recent NAC-funded success stories include Ifundiso Trading, whose Hlengiwe Dube – a jewellery designer, crafter and educator – served in early 2015 as Visiting Scholar at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Visiting Artist at the School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University. She has also been able to exhibit her work in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Houston, Texas.

Elsewhere, the Bulwer Park Community Public Sculpture Project is building a large sculpture – from all-recycled materials – for Bulwer Park in Glenwood, for a planned installation in mid-December 2015. It’s a vulturine fish eagle, a.k.a. palm-nut vulture, wings spread, soaring over seven metres high among the tree tops in this beautiful park which, following a major makeover by eThekwini city, is a popular outdoor recreation space for locals.

Recycling and upcycling is a sustainable alternative to using traditional sculpture materials. Leading the charge is Umcebo Design, one of the NAC’s beneficiaries. Robin Opperman, Ujala Sewpersad and a group of local crafters, working from their studio over the road from Bulwer Park, have constructed the eagle sculpture.

Sign Language Education and Development (SLED), a local organisation eagerly supported by the NAC, is turning the tide in granting access to South Africa’s mainstream arts scene for deaf people. They are achieving this by creating a rich collection of works in South African Sign Language (SASL), to make sure that the history and heritage of South Africa is accessible to the deaf community, in a way that allows it to be transferred from generation to generation.

SLED has been awarded funding to develop a wide range of signed SASL literature for Deaf learners, including educational materials in signed poetry, children’s stories in SASL and in print, historical and contemporary biographies, descriptive narratives and SASL non-fiction. The process will involve research to identify Deaf poets, artists and narrators before creating these unique Deaf community resources.

Another project going from strength to strength is Lefika La Phodiso (‘The Rock of Holding’), Africa’s first psychoanalytically informed community art counselling training centre. The centre facilitates 16 arts counselling groups in Gauteng and Limpopo, collectively reaching almost 750 beneficiaries, receiving over 800 hours of intensive art counselling. Their mission is to build capacity for empathy by training groups of community art counsellors dedicated to psychosocial transformation through the creative arts and their vision is to provide safe spaces in which creativity and containment nourish emotional development and build healthy relationships.

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