The Social Impact Arts Prize is a new art prize with a focus on social impact (education, employment, community, environment, technology and direct arts) that has a direct, measurable effect on individuals and communities, as a result of a site-specific arts-based activity, project or programme, in and around the town of Graaff-Reinet and the Valley of Desolation in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. It is supported by the non-profit Rupert Art Foundation and the Rupert Museum in Stellenbosch.
The idea came from a longstanding interest in the intersection between the arts, science, social impact and the environment. So marrying the arts and its potential as a catalyst for change with a social impact initiative resulted in the Social Impact Arts Prize.
Executive Chairwoman, Hanneli Rupert, also grew up surrounded by art, artists and people with a passion for their community and the natural world, and feels strongly about passing this knowledge forward. As a keen proponent in the concept of a ‘Museum without Walls’ – a democratic space for learning, without entrance fees or predefined opening hours – her hope is to bring this concept to life in
Graaff-Reinet. Rupert sees the ‘Museum without Walls’ as a living residency space for thinkers whose ideas the Social Impact Arts Prize will potentially help to realise and will, in turn, benefit the greater community.
‘Through this competition, we would like to contribute to the very inspiring communities in South Africa and the world, who are already using creativity to tackle social injustices,’ says Rupert.
Unlike most established art competitions in South Africa that focus specifically on fine art, this initiative will provide a different lens on art practices and their role in communities – how a great idea has the potential to motivate, inspire and help a group of people, and be used as a catalyst for change.
Artists, architects and engineers, landscapers, environmentalists, creative visionaries and other experienced community-based creatives are invited to submit impactful, creative and meaningful ideas and concepts for the award’s consideration.
‘It’s incredibly exciting to operate in a time where the arts can be developed as instruments of change. Imagining new ways of integrating art, society and the environment are being explored. We believe that a prize of this type will draw attention towards arts practices which can point towards societal change,’ says Director, Roelof van Wyk.
The Social Impact Arts Prize, which launched in September 2019 in Johannesburg, is supported by online and offline workshops to create effective proposal guidance for entrants in the lead up to the submission deadline on 15 December 2019. The announcement of the shortlist and winner will take place in February 2020 at the Rupert Museum in Stellenbosch and the final project will open to the public in Graaff-Reinet in June 2020.
The awarded project – be it an individual, partnership, collaboration or collective – will need to be implemented on-site. Much like an artist’s residency, the team will be accommodated in Graaff-Reinet for the duration of the time it takes to build, work with people from the local community, complete training or skills transfer where necessary.
‘Graaff-Reinet has been selected as the site for several reasons. Its unique landscape – which already draws leading palaeontologists and environmentalists from around the world – reminds us of the deeper picture. Its location in relation to the country’s major cities will allow breathing room for creative ideas to grow. And hopefully, in time, we can continue to build on the legacy of the town as a “Museum without Walls”,’ concludes Rupert.
Graaff-Reinet is the birthplace of Anton Rupert and the home to much of the philanthropic work that the Rupert Foundations support. This is another way in which to give back to a community that already has familial links, and the Social Impact Arts Prize will add another stream to the way in which the Foundations support Graaff-Reinet. The advisory panel will also include representation from Graaff-Reinet.
Interested creatives should register on www.socialimpactartsprize.org for all the details on the categories, criteria and submission requirements.
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