By Heather Dugmore – The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT), in association with the Nedbank Arts Affinity, is excited about the projects that will receive Development Programme grants in 2017.

Grant recipient, Thandi Ntuli (Photograph by Siphiwe Mhlambi)

‘Exile has so many meanings. You can be exiled in the political sense, but you can also be exiled from your spiritual self when you get too caught up in the material side of life. I think everyone experiences times of being exiled from themselves,’ says Joburg-based musician Thandi Ntuli, who will release her new album ‘Exiled’ later this year, and tour South Africa’s major cities.

Ntuli is one of twelve recipients recently awarded a grant from the Arts & Culture Trust’s (ACT) Professional Development Programme for the first half of 2017. She is using the grant to fund her tour and new album. This is her second, her debut jazz album The Offering was released in 2014.

12 recipients out of 688 applications

The twelve recipients were selected out of a total of 688 applications from across all nine provinces in this round of ACT funding. ACT is South Africa’s premier independent arts funding and development agency, funded by the Nedbank Arts Affinity to extend arts and culture opportunities to all communities.

Individual artists or arts organisations in any of the arts genres in South Africa can apply to ACT for funding through its diverse programmes. In the latest round, the projects include: music, dance, theatre, visual arts, literature, multi-disciplinary arts, new media, arts education and arts administration.

‘Grants and awards help us to take our work further and, importantly to be able to tour, showcase our work, create employment for fellow musicians and the touring team. They also help a lot to raise our profile. People want to see these kinds of accolades on your CV,’ says Ntuli who has earned acclaim as a rising jazz artist. She is every bit this and more, combining a wide range of music genres in her original South African sound, for which she received the 2016 ImpACT Award for music and singing.

National Arts Festival (NAF) 2017

Two of the projects selected in this round of grants will be performing at the 2017 National Arts Festival (NAF) in Grahamstown. They are: The Truth Beneath and The Edge (formerly The Cape Town Edge).

The Truth Beneath

The Truth Beneath is a theatre production and original South African story about the volcano bubbling beneath the surface of our lives, written and directed by Professor Matlaopane, a 61-year-old writer and director from Lehurutshe, North West Province. He started directing in 1998 at Ikageleng High School in Zeerust, North West, and ran an arts development programme for high school learners.

Mentoring local high school artists to ever-greater heights, he went on to stage productions at local festivals and drama competitions, including the North West Cultural Calabash, Aardklop Drama Festival and Moribo Arts Festival. This led to participation in national festivals, including MACUFE, the Zwakala Festival and the NAF.

He is committed to developing young artists and the performing arts in disadvantaged communities, and to mentoring upcoming young actors from these communities, some of whom will perform in The Truth Beneath. He will use the grant to pay the actors, the production team, and the logistics to put on this production at the NAF and also in Zeerust and Mahikeng.

The Edge

The Cape Town Edge, which in 2017 changed its name to The Edge, is a platform or festival hub for independent theatre makers in South Africa who are creating fresh, exciting new work.

Now in its 11th year, it is currently run by three established theatre makers: Philip Rademeyer, Tara Notcutt and Wynne Bredenkamp. They bring together and support productions that showcase the diverse, high quality independent theatre industry from Cape Town and our other cities, creating a pulsating space at the NAF Fringe.

The ACT grant will be used to make the NAF more sustainable for independent artists through assisting participating artists/companies with some of the financial and logistical difficulties of taking a production to the NAF Fringe.

Rademeyer explains that producing shows for the NAF Fringe is becoming costly, including travel, accommodation and Fringe registration and venue hire. This makes it difficult for many independent artists to showcase themselves at NAF, which is a key platform for exposure and growth.

This year The Edge will showcase eight diverse productions at the NAF Fringe. Productions include: We didn’t come to hell for the Croissants directed by Lindiwe Matshikiza, Cattle Drive written and directed by Luke & Nicholas Ellenbogen, Oh Baby, I’m a Wild One written and director by Louis Viljoen, You Suck and Other Inescapable Truths written by Klara van Wyk and directed by Francisco Nassimbeni, and Undermined directed by Tara Notcutt.

Projects selected

Here are the summaries of the other nine projects selected in this round.

Soweto Art and Craft Fair (multidisciplinary arts)

The monthly Soweto Art and Craft Fair at the Soweto Theatre is all about showcasing South African and African creativity. The Fair features high quality art, fashion, craft, home décor, accessories and more. It attracts a lot of visitors and creatives are given the opportunity to exhibit, market and sell their work. The Fair also features world-class local bands, including The Muffinz, The Soil, Ntsiki Mazwai, NomiSupasta, BCUC, Urban Village, Samthing Soweto, and reveals new talent such as Simply Soweto, Jazz Cats, Guru Logik, Tidal Waves and DMDC. The grant is being used to host the Fair.

Vrynge (multidisciplinary arts)
Free State

Vrynge is an initiative of the Vrystaat Kunstefees to create a platform for emerging artists. Vrynge will use the grant to help create an environment that inspires freedom of practice, supports innovation, encourages creative industries and builds capacity. Vrynge’s programme includes literature, visual arts, film, fashion, architecture, music, dance, performance art, interdisciplinary and experimental art and theatre.

A Book on the History of the Ndebele People (literature)

Established writer, Sunnyboy Moloko, has been penning radio dramas for the Ndebele Radio Station, Ikwekwezi FM, since 1998. He was been asked by the Ndebele King Makhosoke II to write a book in both isiNdebele and English about the origin, history, cultures and traditions of the Ndebele people of South Africa, as most of the Ndebele history is oral and not documented. He will use the grant to fund his research for the book.

Litshani Vhana-Vha-de Foundation Project (arts education)
Gauteng & Limpopo

The Litshani Vhana-Vha-De Foundation (LVVF) meaning “Let the Children Come” is a community arts organisation operating in the rural areas of Muledane, Venda. They wish to collaborate with the National Children’s Theatre to guide the teachers in their community to develop the artistic talents among children and youth in the community. The grant will be used towards workshops that will include drama, improvisation, singing, dance and musical theatre.

Hands On! (music)
Northern Cape

Hands On!, a non-profit organisation founded in 2007, believes that through culture communities are better able to engage young people in constructive activity and attract the people and businesses essential for a prosperous local economy. The grant is being used to purchase more instruments for their free music programme targeted at the youth.

The Time Triptych (literature)
Western Cape

Junkets Publisher, established in 2003, will use the grant to publish and produce two new South African plays by young emerging South African playwrights in its Time Triptych series. The playwrights tackle issues in a provocative, often politically incorrect manner to interestingly reflect on our country in flux. The plays are: Reparation by Ameera Conrad, Kudu by Lwanda Sindaphi, and the performed poem Tswalo/The Source.

Venus Hottentot versus Modernity (theatre)

Writer Lebo Mashile will use this grant to develop a script for a full-length theatrical piece that explores the life and cultural impact of Saartjie Baartman, who was also known by the stage name, Venus Hottentot. The three-phase process will include a series of workshops with two-month intervals in between to allow time to write the script.

Uwo-Xuaha (theatre)
Northern Cape

Uwo-Xuaha is an allegorical dramatic poem that uses movement, dance and poetry to tell the tragic tale of a San family’s escape from the Angolan civil war, through Namibia to Platfontein in Kimberley, where they endured much hardship, including being ostracised and regarded with suspicion by the Galeshewe township community in Kimberley. This project deals with the indigenous knowledge embedded in the minds and memories of the Xhu and Khwe San community currently living in Platfontein, enabling them to write and tell their own stories through a literacy skills and script-writing programme led by the Galeshewe Theatre Organisation. The grant is being used for the script development and workshops to help the Platfontein community to preserve their heritage by mentoring them in the staging of Uwo-Xuaha.

Music Education/Piano (music)

The Music Academy of Gauteng is faced with the challenge of assisting learners from the poorest backgrounds. It offers a credible music education program thereby equipping aspiring musicians with the necessary skills for a successful music career. The project applied for this grant towards purchasing pianos.

The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) is South Africa’s premier independent arts funding and development agency. For more information visit

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 more than R16 million through its Arts Affinity Programme, in support of more than 800 South African arts, culture and heritage development projects, at no cost to its clients. To open a Nedbank Arts Affinity account please visit any Nedbank branch or call 0860 555 111, or visit for more information.