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Celebrating 25 years of groundbreaking creativity

My Body My Space Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative FATC
Musa Hlatshwayo’ Mhayise theatre at My body My Space (Christo Doherty)

     Establishing the Ebhudwleni Arts Centre in Emakhazeni – an almost forgotten space in rural Mpumalanga in terms of the arts, education and funding – was a bold move for FATC, but one that has ultimately been a masterstroke for the company and the South African dance sector as a whole. 
     In addition to being in dire need of an arts injection, Emakhazeni holds personal significance for Sabbagha and was thus a plausible option when they looked at moving out of the urban environment. ‘Our family has a long history with the area. My mom was born and grew up in Belfast and my parents bought the farm on which we are based 40 years ago,’ says Sabbagha. 
     ‘I spent most of my childhood weekends and holidays on this farm, totally immersed in the environment, the culture, and the lives of local residents, so returning here was an obvious choice.’
     Since establishing the Ebhudlweni Arts Centre five years ago, FATC has successfully implemented groundbreaking and extensive Artistic and Arts Education Programmes that serve its immediate rural community –  which is hugely under-resourced and under-served – as well as the regional, provincial, national and international dance and arts and culture sector.  
     FATC’s Arts Education Programme, which consists of the Local Education in Arts Programme (LEAP), the Community Builders Dance Training Programme (CBDTP) and Youth in Arts Leadership Programme (YALP), has already made a measurable impact. 
     LEAP consists of three core projects: an after-school project offered in various community halls; an in-schools project offered at local schools; and an inclusive arts project offered at the local disability centre. Through this, FATC reaches 1 500 children and youth a month and 115 people with disabilities. ‘Our full team – from core team members to trainees and interns – undergo rigorous facilitation training to ensure we deliver quality work to beneficiaries,’ says Sabbagha. ‘We are extremely committed to ensuring that our local educational (LEAP) work is not some diluted version of professional practice but art education at an extremely high-quality that positively impacts the lives of our learners.’
     These education programmes are offered at no cost and focus on providing first-rate, inclusive arts education and skills development, to provide geographically and financially accessible arts education and training to those living in remote rural communities. 
     ‘Our work from Ebhudlweni has grown extensively, and while it generates incredible impacts and results in the lives of those we reach, living and working here is more complex, challenging and rewarding than any of us could have anticipated,’ says Sabbagha.
     FATC @ Ebhudlweni Arts Centre’s numerous offerings include the Artists in Residency (AIR) programme. Set in tranquillity, far from urban distraction, the centre provides the artists in residence with an immersive experience, which allows them the unique privilege of focused investigations within a vibrantly rich cultural heritage for a period of four to five weeks. With office space, two dedicated studios, and accommodation for twelve, there is no other arts centre in South Africa that provides this kind of opportunity for artists on the same scale. 

Continue reading the complete article by clicking on page 4 below.
WATCH their series of videos celebrating 25 years of creativity.

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