The past is always with you

Bongani Kona reviews The Blacks of Cape Town –

Straddling two continents, America and Africa, and shifting between time zones, from the mid-1800’s to 2008, C.A. Davids’s ambitious first novel tells – as the provocative title suggests – the story of three generations of the Black family. Yet it is also so much more than a family history. It explores the madness of apartheid’s racial categories and how they still entangle us and how the past has been whittled down to a fairy tale-like story of saints and sinners devoid of complexity.

At the centre of the 237-page novel is Zara Black; a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Berwick in New Jersey and a third generation offspring of the Black family. Her life starts to unravel when she receives a letter from the South African government naming her late father, Bart, “among the traitors, conspirators and betrayers of their time.” The allegations spur Zara to dig into her family’s past in order to unearth the truth for herself. read more…

In the face of adversity

by Pieter Jacobs, ACT CEO –

Reading about the Director of Diepsloot Youth Projects, Neftaly Malatje, scooping a R25,000 entrepreneurship award gave me such a thrill.

The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) and Nedbank Arts Affinity are supporting the upcoming Diepsloot Youth Festival managed by Neftaly and it is reassuring to know that ACT has clearly made the right decision to support this initiative. read more…

What’s art got to do with it?

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Art, Democracy & Development by S. Şerban Scrieciu –

The arts have a big role to play in democracy and development. Take for instance the role of art as a form of protest, a form of criticism to the address of perceived injustices. Art can give voice in a more subtle way or in a straightforward explosion to frustrations, anger, and suffering.

Think of cases from literature where writers have responded to or warned of the dangers of undemocratic rule and repressive policies of authoritarian regimes. Examples include the Ukrainian writer Mikhail Bulgakov or the English novelist and essayist George Orwell (both active in the first half of the twentieth century), who have undermined and ridiculed (Soviet-inspired) totalitarian practices. read more…

Dr John Kani’s message for ‘Take a Child to the Theatre’

Dr John Kani

by Dr John Kani –

I was born seventy years ago. I grew up in the township of New Brighton outside Port Elizabeth. Life for me and for many of my friends was to wake up and if you are very lucky, you go to school. Otherwise you would just hang around the township and watch your life being wasted away by the very cruel Apartheid System. It was not compulsory for our parents to take us to school and they had to pay for our education.

One day our English teacher took us to see a production of Macbeth by William Shakespeare at the Opera House in the city of Port Elizabeth. We were all excited. Oh no, not to see the play, it was the opportunity to go to town! It was the bus ride that we were looking forward to. We sat in the theatre; the lights went off slowly in the auditorium. The curtain came up and magic happened. That was my first experience of being in a real theatre. read more…

World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People

Yvette Hardie

by Yvette Hardie –

Nelson Mandela famously said, “We understand and promote the notion that while children need to be guided, they also have an entrenched right to be whatever they want to be and that they can achieve this only if they are given the space to dream and live out their dreams.” ASSITEJ believes that theatre creates the perfect spaces within which children can dream and live out their dreams.

Mandela’s notions about children were central to who he was as a person and a leader. In Mandela’s interactions with children, we saw the depth and breadth of his humanity revealed. His playfulness and capacity for humour and joy, his respectful attitude towards children that took seriously their points of view, his fierce belief in the value of education as the most powerful tool we possess, his determination to always find time for children even when in the presence of world leaders and his commitment to children through the ongoing work of his charities, was a hallmark of his legacy. read more…

ACT Scholarships Interview on Radio Today

Follow this link to listen to the podcast:

Chris Avant-Smith from @Radio2Day spoke to Pieter Jacobs, CEO at the Arts & Culture Trust about the ACT Scholarship Awards.

Radio Today’s BASA Newsflash sponsored by Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) is hosted by Chris Avant-Smith on Fridays from 17h45 to18h00 (GMT+2) and repeated on Wednesdays at 11h00 (GMT+2). Radio Today (@Radio2Day) broadcasts on 1485 AM in Johannesburg and country-wide on DStv audio channel 869. Stream: and on

Funding applications that stand out

by Pieter Jacobs, ACT CEO –

Striking a balance between the artistic merit and the physical implementation of a project is one of the most important aspects of a funding proposal, yet the nemesis of many a fundraiser.

The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) receives more than 800 applications a year. Of these, the Trust is generally in a position to support approximately 7%. When you do the math you will see that the odds aren’t great. But it would be foolish not to apply – IF your project is eligible. Especially since ACT’s application process is a breeze. read more…

Death by Fundraising

by Pieter Jacobs, ACT CEO –

There is no such thing as a fundraising specialist, just opportunistic daredevils. If you come across one, shower them with love. They go through their lives hearing ‘no’ a lot more than in most careers.

If fundraising was as easy as following a recipe, many more people would do it and far less Public Benefit Organisations would be cash strapped. The truth of the matter is, and I don’t want to discourage anyone, it is hard. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that works. Fundraisers would, most likely, find it much easier to tell you not what to do than what to do. This is because it is trial and error. The variables are massive. Every organisation and project has its unique requirements, as do the sponsors approached for support. read more…

Death by Fundraisers

by Pieter Jacobs, ACT CEO –

When the closing date for funding applications nears it is, without fail, chaotic at the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) office.

I wondered about this and realised I too am guilty. It is not that I leave an application to the very latest moment possible before I start working on it. In fact, like in the process of preparing any good piece of writing, a proposal needs time to simmer and mature. I procrastinate until the very last moment to ensure it isn’t too long or too short. Or that it isn’t too complicated or too simple; that the request isn’t too much or too little. You get the idea. So, if you are anything like me, you would start long in advance. And so we should. Starting early is one of the advantages fundraisers can give themselves. read more…

Why being ‘Just an Artist’ isn’t enough

by Pieter Jacobs, ACT CEO –

Many artists hate hearing how they cannot only be, well, artists and simply do what artists do. They need to think of themselves as a business.

There are many performers who act as their own managers, run businesses, sometimes have other part-time jobs while also practicing their craft. They are often the ones that are financially successful, have rewarding careers and live stable, sustainable lives. read more…

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