Last night proved to be everything and more as the 2015 ACT | DALRO | Nedbank Performing Arts Scholarships finalists put on a stellar showcase for audience members. After a demanding week of rehearsals at the hands of a talented creative team and a tough final round in front of a live audience, Carla Smith, Caleb Heynes and Andiswa Mbolekwa were crowned as triple threats winning the 7th annual ACT | DALRO | Nedbank Performing Arts Scholarships competition. The trio convinced the judges of their proficiency in singing, dancing and acting, and as a result will be supported in their undergraduate tertiary studies, beginning in 2016.

Carla Smith - R150,000 Scholarship Recipient (Pic: Debbie Yazbek)

Carla Smith – R150,000 Scholarship Recipient (Pic: Debbie Yazbek)

The top six performers battled it out during the finale hosted at the iconic Market Theatre in order to be one of three winners to be awarded a share of scholarships totaling R315 000.

Great strides were made this year because for the first time the search went to all nine provinces, scoping talent across the length and breadth of South Africa. The judges were given a great task to assess and select only the best to join a long list of performers to partake in the competition, upping the audition performance item numbers from 225 in 2009 to 776 in 2015. Six finalists were chosen through a country-wide audition process, and then coached by a dedicated team of professionals, before putting their best foot forward in front of an illustrious panel of judges, and – possibly the biggest critics of all – a live audience.

Caleb Heynes - R105,000 Scholarship Recipient (Pic: Debbie Yazbek)

Caleb Heynes – R105,000 Scholarship Recipient (Pic: Debbie Yazbek)

“We are delighted to be part of the Performing Arts Scholarships Programme that continuously seeks to discover South Africa’s untapped artistic talent,” enthuses Tobie Badenhorst Head: Sponsorships & Cause Marketing at Nedbank. “As a bank for all, we remain committed to enabling the dreams and goals of young people and are inspired by the great talent the Scholarships Programme continues to unearth. On behalf of Nedbank we would like to congratulate the winners and encourage them to continue to make the things that really matter to them happen.”

With support from the Arts & Culture Trust; the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO) and Nedbank Arts Affinity, the three winners will have the opportunity to study a performing arts course at an accredited South African tertiary institution of their choice. They will also receive practical support beyond their studies, including representation by one of South Africa’s top talent agencies, Talent-ETC™ Artist Management.

Andiswa Mbolekwa - R60,000 Scholarship Recipient (Pic: Debbie Yazbek)

Andiswa Mbolekwa – R60,000 Scholarship Recipient (Pic: Debbie Yazbek)

“DALRO would like to take this opportunity to not only congratulate the winners, but to also thank them … Strange we know, but if it weren’t for young people such as yourselves, programmes like this one might not even be possible. Thank you for your hard work, your dedication to your craft and talent, and thank you for being passionate,” says DALRO’s Theatrical Rights Supervisor André Cloete.

He further adds: “Working in the performing arts is not only a career but also a calling, and you guys have answered that call. To be a performer looks easy to the audience, but we all know that it takes blood, sweat and tears. Know that ahead of you lies an incredible journey, and that this is only the beginning. Also know that you are joining the ranks of ACT | DALRO | NEDBANK Performing Arts Scholarships royalty, and that the responsibility to keep building this legacy and inspire others to also become storytellers is now in your hands. Study and work hard, and your dreams will keep coming true. So once again, to the finalists and the winners, congratulations and thank you. Now go forth and conquer!”

Carla Smith - R150,000 Scholarship recipient (Pic: Debbie Yazbek)

Carla Smith – R150,000 Scholarship Recipient (Pic: Debbie Yazbek)

The Magic in the Making production was crafted with the help of industry professionals Jacques Bessenger (Artistic Director), Franco Prinsloo (Musical Director), Lotanang Makoti (Assistant Director) and previous Scholarships winners Chantèl Evans and Kamogelo Nche, who worked on dance and choreographic elements.

The show wouldn’t have been a success without the amazing work done by this year’s vibrant host Raymond Motadi, the 20-year-old TUT Musical Theatre student popularly known to his TshwaneFM radio show listeners as “Mond”. The former National School of the Arts pupil, who aims to make a mark in the South African entertainment scene, is also founder of Rainboukidz – a youth organisation aimed at supporting people in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender community.

Caleb Heynes - R105,000 Scholarship Recipient (Pic: Debbie Yazbek)

Caleb Heynes – R105,000 Scholarship Recipient (Pic: Debbie Yazbek)

CEO of the Arts and Culture Trust, Pieter Jacobs, reflected on what the 7th Scholarships Awards meant for the arts sector, by saying:  “Being involved in the programme since its inception in 2009 – I am tremendously proud of ACT and our sponsors for not allowing some of the gems, who might not have been able to pursue formal performing arts training due to financial constraints, slip through the cracks. Looking into the future, we hope that at least some of them will join the ranks of South African icons who have gone on to do great deeds in the country’s arts fraternity. It is also rewarding to see how the programme has challenged and encouraged aspirant performers to become versatile artists and to raise the bar year after year.”

The 2015 panel of judges included; multi-award winning and well-known Durban theatre personality Caroline Smart, manager of Talent-ETC™ Jennis Williamson, actor and Market Theatre Artistic Director James Ngcobo, University of Johannesburg’s Head of Arts & Culture and award-winning playwright Ashraf Johaardien, and professional dancer and choreographer Charlie van Rooyen.

Andiswa Mbolekwa - R60,000 Scholarship Recipient (Pic: Debbie Yazbek)

Andiswa Mbolekwa – R60,000 Scholarship Recipient (Pic: Debbie Yazbek)

The 2015 Scholarships Programme was hosted by the Market Theatre with additional support from the National School of the Arts (NSA) and Jade Bowers Design and Management.

ACT would also like to acknowledge support from the following organisations as regional partners: University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Baxter Theatre, Port Elizabeth Opera House (PEOH), Market Theatre, Mayibuye Arts Centre, University of the Free State’s Scaena Theatre, Witbank Civic Theatre and NWU Artéma Instituut vir Kunstebestuur en Ontwikkeling.

ABOUT THE WINNERS

Winner of the R150 000 – Carla Smith

Capetonian Carla has had a passion for entertaining since she was young – according to her mom, she could act before she could walk. Carla was a member of the Tygerberg Children’s Choir when the choir won three gold medals in the Olympic Choir Games. She was also runner up in the KykNET National Acting Competition. Carla’s parents have always supported her zest for acting, singing and dancing, and she always spots them from the stage when performing.

Winner of the R105 000 – Caleb Heynes

Art-loving Caleb Heynes is currently finishing his matric at the Lady Grey Arts Academy, where he is Head Boy. Hailing from Aliwal North, Caleb studies dance, drama and music. He is also known for his skills as a poet and rapper. Among his many performance credits, Caleb played Riff in West Side Story, as well as being featured on ATKV and the Passion Play.

Winner of the R60 000 – Andiswa Mbolekwa

Andiswa attends the Lady Grey Arts Academy in the Eastern Cape. Her passion for the performing arts is evident in her outstanding drama, singing and dance skills. This triple-threat has been acknowledged for her Outstanding Work in the Passion Play, and has been awarded Best Female Vocalist, Best Female Actress and Best Female Contemporary Dancer. She has also received her Colours in Music, as well as a Trophy as choir soprano for the Altech Concert.

ABOUT THE SCHOLARSHIPS SPONSORS AND PARTNERS

The Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO) is a multi-purpose copyright society that collects royalties for the use of copyright-protected works on behalf of authors and publishers, which it then distributes back to the correct copyright-owner. As a custodian of copyright and the protection of rightsholders’ works, DALRO’s main areas of administration are reprographic reproduction rights (photocopying from published editions), public performance rights (including stage rights for book musicals and dramas) and reproduction rights (whether for publishing or copying) in works of visual art. For more information please visit www.dalro.co.za.

The Nedbank Arts Affinity is a proud supporter of the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT). Since the inception of ACT in 1994, Nedbank has raised and distributed nearly R15 million through our Arts Affinity Programme, in support of more than 800 South African arts, culture and heritage development projects, at no cost to our clients. To open a Nedbank Arts Affinity account please visit any Nedbank branch or call 0860 555 111. For more information please visit www.nedbankarts.co.za.

Based in Johannesburg’s vibrant Newtown Precinct, The Market Theatre was established in 1976 to operate as an independent, non-racial playhouse during the country’s apartheid regime. The theatre is renowned world-wide for brilliant anti-apartheid productions as well as the premieres of many of Athol Fugard’s award-winning dramas. The Market Theatre’s history is intertwined with the cultural, social and political struggle for freedom in South Africa. The Market Theatre’s ethos stems from a long line of developmental work through its performing art school, the Market Theatre Lab, and the establishment proudly supports the ACT | DALRO | Nedbank Performing Arts Scholarships Programme for the first time in 2015. For more information please visit www.markettheatre.co.za.

Jade Bowers Design & Management specialises in directing, designing and stage management for theatre. Jade Bowers graduated from the University of Cape Town (UCT) with a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Drama and Sociology and received an Honours degree at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) with a focus on directing and design for the stage. Bowers was the recipient of the ImpACT award for Theatre in 2014 as well as one of the Pitch Perfect grants during the 2015 ACT | UJ Arts & Culture Conference, and she was named one of AfriPOP’s Top Five Female Theatre Makers in South Africa. She was nominated for a 2013 Naledi Award for Best Sound Design for iHAMLET and for Best Cutting Edge production for What the Water Gave Me in 2014, and has recently received a Standard Bank Ovation Award for Tin Bucket Drum which was preceded by a Silver Ovation Award in 2014 from the National Arts Festival. She has worked as director and designer and has the production manager, stage manager, festival director titles for WALE 4.0 under her belt. Bowers is currently a Theatrical Rights Administrator at the Dramatic Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO).