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Making art accessible:
MTN Foundation & Imbali partner for better arts education

The newly launched Imbali Artbooks: Adventuring into Art website ( was made possible through support from the MTN Foundation and is the result of a longstanding partnership between the Foundation and the Imbali Visual Literacy Project. Creative Feel spoke to Niel Nortje, Manager of the MTN Art Collection, to find out a bit more about this essential and successful project.

Usha Seejarim, Pincode (2005), suspended installation of 140,000 safety pins on location at MTN’s head offices in Fairlands, JHB. MTN Art Collection

Since its launch under the custodianship of the MTN Art Institute in November 1998, the MTN Art Collection has been an advocate for arts education, particularly in under-resourced communities. When the MTN Foundation was ‘officially launched, by Madiba himself, in December 2001,’ Niel Nortje says that ‘the Foundation became the custodian of the MTN Art Collection and its arts-education-development programmes.’
     As the corporate social investment (CSI) arm of MTN, Nortje notes that the MTN Foundation is responsible for giving ‘back to the communities that the company operates in. The Foundation partners with communities, civil society, government and NGOs in developing and supporting valuable interventions in historically disadvantaged communities throughout South Africa.
     ‘Education, particularly in the Information Communications Technology (ICT) area, has always been at the core of the MTN Foundation’s strategy, receiving the largest allocation of funding. We also support community projects; addressing challenges in the areas of health, arts and culture, enterprise development, as well as special projects on an ad-hoc basis. It is also the Foundation’s responsibility to drive the company’s staff volunteerism programme,’ says Nortje.

Esreal Thavana, Adam and Eve (c.2003), carved wood with dried plant matter. MTN Art Collection

Unknown (Baule), Okyeame Poma / Linguist Staff (early 20th century), carved wood with gold plating. MTN Art Collection

Unknown (Baule), Mami Wata / Kpan Kpan Mask (mid-20th century), carved and painted wood. MTN Art Collection

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