By Storm Brown – Today the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) is honouring the memory of one of our country’s greatest leaders and ACT’s patron during his term in office – Nelson Rohlihlahla Mandela. ACT has been around for twenty-one years and we are celebrating Tata Madiba’s gift of freedom and democracy through the sustained development and funding of the arts in South Africa.

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A society without the arts is a society that loses some of it’s most crucial forms of communication, expression and humanity. The arts are the sense ratio that we use to understand the world around us and are fundamental to a healthy democracy where every person is granted a voice. One only has to think of Dr John Kani’s revolutionary theatre, Nadine Gordimer or J.M Coetzee’s award-winning literature or Sam Nzima’s game-changing 1976 picture to understand the pivotal importance of the sustained existence of the arts in South Africa.

The primary aim of ACT is to increase the skills, training, exposure and resources available to the arts and culture industry through providing innovative and sustainable projects that make a meaningful contribution to society. Through structured funding programmes, ACT provides support for all expressions of arts and culture, including literature, music, visual art, theatre and dance, and the support extends to festivals, community arts initiatives, arts management, arts education and arts administration. Our five main funding and development mechanisms include a scholarships programme, arts management short courses, an arts and culture conference, development grants and our annual awards ceremony that acknowledges Lifetime Achievers as well as young professional artists in the industry.

The performing arts scholarships made available for undergraduate studies serves as a valuable stepping stone and increases recipients’ competitiveness in a challenging industry. One of ACT’s recipients, Tankiso Mamabolo, recently worked with Dr John Kani who is a previous Lifetime Achievement winner, and she also performed at the recent National Arts Festival. Through the Trust’s arts management training, it invests in artists’ skills and by doing so improve their employability. The information, knowledge and research shared through the annual conference, inspire, empower and enable artists and practitioners to take advantage of opportunities they did know exist. By funding the costs of materials and covering other expenses, the Trust increases the likelihood of grantees making a profit from their art. As reported by award recipients, the spotlight the annual ACT Awards cast on established and emerging artists’ careers, increase interest in their work, which ultimately results in more revenue.

In light of Madiba’s unquenchable optimism, and heart for his people, ACT would like to call on those equally passionate about the arts to spend your 67 minutes ensuring that ACT can continue its work as South Africa’s premier arts and culture funding and development agency.

Thanks to strategic partnerships with MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet and the Nedbank Arts Affinity Programme – supporting the arts in South Africa has never been easier and it need not even take you the full 67 minutes.

Potential patrons can sign up for a My School Card, that donates every time a purchase is made from participating retailers such as Woolworths, Engen Quick Shops and Bidvest Waltons or online at loot.co.za. Signing up and making ACT one of three beneficiaries is free!

Nedbank has also made it simple to support the arts by allowing customers to link the Arts Affinity option to any cheque, savings or current account. By selecting the Arts Affinity, clients ensure that a percentage of their transactions gets donated directly to the Arts & Culture Trust at no cost them.

Click here for more information about the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT).