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Emerging young artists cultivated as professional arts practitioners through the DAC Debut Programme

A partnership between Business and Arts South Africa NPC, the Department of Arts and Culture and the National Lotteries Council, the Debut Programme identifies emerging creative talent in all nine provinces in South Africa and supports them with knowledge and skills development. 

On 13 July 2017, Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa launched the inaugural Department of Arts and Culture Debut Programme, aimed at providing opportunities to aspirant professionals in the creative sectors. 
     The programme contributes to the development of participants’ nascent talent, giving them that all-important ‘break’ in their careers, and assisting them in recognising and harnessing their unique assets and social capital within their respective communities.  
     A partnership between Business and Arts South Africa NPC (BASA), the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and the National Lotteries Council (NLC), the programme received over 2 000 application videos, following an extensive national marketing campaign. Creatives from all nine provinces submitted applications, covering a range of artistic disciplines, including musicians, crafters, theatre-makers, visual artists and even puppeteers. 
     With the help of community art centres, nine co-facilitators were identified, who would aid in coordinating, communicating and facilitating the Debut Programme, kicking off with the first series of workshops in the Northern Cape, on 25 July 2017. 
     Ultimately, the programme supports emerging artists with knowledge and skills development, enabling them to shift from amateur to professional. Emerging from the DAC’s strategic vision of a thriving arts, culture and heritage sector, contributing to a sustainable economy, the BASA-run programme has successfully nurtured young artists in peri-urban areas across South Africa, equipping all 197 participants with knowledge and skills, and 77 of these with Catalyst Grants (totalling R1 155 000), to support their professional development. In addition, one co-facilitator in each province received training and part-time employment. 
     Celebrating the success of the DAC Debut Programme and the achievements of its participants, the first prestigious DAC Debut Awards ceremony was held on 22 February 2019 at The Rand Club in Johannesburg. Over 140 guests attended, comprising 74 programme participants, co-facilitators (who were recognised for their invaluable contributions to the programme), and other key stakeholders. The top achiever in each province was announced, and received a Launch Grant worth R50 000, and the opportunity for mentorship. Special Award winners were also honoured for their achievements in the areas of Design Thinking, Growth, Commitment, Collaboration, and Social Development, and they each received a R20 000 grant (with R25 000 for Social Development). The standout winner of the evening was Ilaphi Creation, the Gauteng winner, who also took home the Collaboration Award. The ceremony ended with encouraging words from DAC Director-General Vusumuzi Mkhize, who committed to continue supporting young creative practitioners through the DAC Debut Programme.

DAC Debut Programme Intro
Meet the 9 DAC Debut Programme Provincial Winners
Unpacking the Debut Programme

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