For the last seven years, the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) Scholarships Programme has been stoking local talent and affording tertiary education opportunities to young South African performers. And this year is no different; with performing arts scholarships to the value of R200,000, up for grabs.

Arlin Bantam – Scholarship recipient 2013

Funded by the Nedbank Arts Affinity and the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO), and supported by The Market Theatre, the 2017 Scholarships Programme will provide opportunities to young people with their sights set on pursuing performing arts training in 2018.

In 2013, then Settlers High School learner Arlin Bantam, applied for an ACT Scholarship and he says this decision, and his subsequent win, played a huge part in moulding his already impressive career.

“Outside of the recognition and respect I received as a Scholarship recipient, the Award afforded me the chance to study free of the many of anxieties that arts students face. I had one of the biggest arts organisations on my side in more ways than just the financial ones. I’d received a stamp of approval, something I could always look back on if ever I felt insecure or disheartened. That being said the prize money helped a lot too.”

With his Scholarship funding, Bantam chose to study Drama and Theatre Studies at the University of Stellenbosch, where he majored in Creative Writing. He has since gone on to do a commendable variety of local and international work.

Arlin Bantam performing at the Scholarships final (Photo by Jan Potgieter)

“Last year I appeared in the American TV series Blood Drive and shot my first feature film, a French film called The Pigeon Paradox, which is due out later this month. In addition to that, I just finished playing a lead role in the national tour of the musical RENT,” says Bantam. “I’ve staged and plan to stage more LGBT+ and black-oriented work exploring the realms of performance art and musical theatre and how these genres interact with blackness and queerness. My first full-length play is being produced later this year and my first novel is well on its way to being published within the next year or so.”

ACT CEO, Pieter Jacobs says this is hard proof that the Scholarships Programme is ensuring young talent finds its way into the industry. “The goal of investing in someone’s education is never only for them to acquire more knowledge and skills, but for this to translate into sustainable careers and it is extremely rewarding to see this transpiring.”

“We are tremendously proud of previous scholarship recipients finding their way into productions such as Rent, Marat/Sade and The Fall,” he says. “It is evident the Scholarships Programme indeed makes good on its promise to make dreams of becoming a professional performing artist a reality.”

This year, aspirant young performers are invited to apply in one of the following categories; acting, dancing, singing, or musical theatre. Once registered online, hopefuls will be required to perform two pieces of their choice, within their chosen category, at an audition.

Bantam says hopefuls would be crazy not to apply. “Programmes like this one are few and far between,” he says. “With so many scholarships being awarded for other fields of study, why not take the chance and potentially have your career validated in the same way. If you’re the dorky kid in the back of the classroom, or the annoying theatre nerd, this Award could catapult you from the back of that classroom onto a stage that affords you the space and freedom to be who you want to be. It’s all about the work you put in. Winning this Award is hard work, but it’s so worth it, it’ll blow your mind.”

Registrations for the Programme close on Wednesday, 31 May 2017. For more information about the programme, as well audition dates and venues, and access to the registration form, please visit http://act.org.za/programmes/scholarships.html.

Auditions for the 2017 Scholarship Programme will be held in all nine provinces between late June and mid-July 2017.

The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) is South Africa’s premier independent arts funding and development agency. The primary aim of ACT is to increase the amount of funding available for arts and culture initiatives and to apply these funds to innovative, 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. Follow ACT on Twitter or like the Trust’s Facebook page.

The Nedbank Arts Affinity is a proud supporter of 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 nedbankarts.co.za, or call 0860 555 111, or visit a Nedbank branch for more information.

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. 2017 is DALRO’s 50-year Jubilee anniversary, having served the copyright needs of the creative industry since 1967. For more information, please click here.

The Market Theatre is renowned world-wide for brilliant anti-apartheid plays that have included Woza Albert, Asinamali, Bopha, Sophiatown, You Strike the Woman You Strike a Rock, Born in the RSA, Black Dog – Inj’emnyama, 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. For more information, please click here.