Artscape Theatre Education  and Training Programme launch held on 11 February, shared the spot light with two iconic anniversaries, the 30-year anniversary of South Africa’s first, democratically elected, black president, Nelson Mandela and the 54th commemoration of the 1996 District Six forced removals.

The Deputy Speaker charismatically shared,”It’s the arts that has brought our nation together from the 60’s and played a key role in the country’s liberation. South African artists were invited to Denmark to teach the Danish kids revolutionary songs in the various African languages and this was a true celebration of the Arts. The aim of the partnership with Artscape is to continue the work done in this sector and to implement the Constitution; to also work together to create artistic educational content”.

The main theme that ran throughout the programme was the impact that the Arts has on youth through innovation and problem solving. Marlene Le Roux shared,”In the light of all of this, it’s about giving back, writing new naratives, storytelling, to value young artists on stage, to develop critical thinkers, writers and journalists and this all starts at schools. It’s about youth development and creating dialogue, new productions, new voices and we can tell the young people taking part in the High School Drama festival to write about what is happening in their communities and to dream of the new South Africa and what they can actively contribute to society.”

The programme seeks to remove barriers that could stand in the way of our diverse population to access the arts. Furthermore it seeks to give a platform to previously marginalised art forms, and develop South Africa’s next generation of arts and performance practitioners.

The year-long programme equally assists with the cultural institution’s transformation trajectory that has as its aim, to spotlight that which was hidden or marginalised. Thus projects such as the Artscape Women and Humanity Festival, the Youth Jazz, the isiXhosa Set Work production, Buzani ku Bawo, the ArtsAbility Festival as well as celebration of national holidays, speaks to the transformation mandate.

The diverse year-long arts education programme, in collaboration with the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government, amongst others, also attempts to address some of the socio-economic challenges facing today’s youth, such as distance, transport, lack of funds and disability.

“By giving participants access to world-class stages with professional lighting and production values, our programme inspires young people’s creative dreams, helps them to grow as performers and artists, and drives employment,” says Artscape CEO, Marlene le Roux.

“Our Schools Arts Festival, as a mere example, will see learners from about 15 schools deliver a programme of choral music, theatre and contemporary dance, while the High School Drama Festival engenders latent creative talent,” she adds.

This mandate also speaks to the promotion and involvement of township and rural communities in the Centre’s arts activities and recruiting rural communities to become actively involved in theatre productions, inclusive of the annual rural outreach programme that “takes the theatre to the people”.
Meanwhile the skills and training programmes through the Artscape Resource Centre and Technical Training Academy transforms education within the Arts and is changing the perceptions and aspirations towards mainstreaming professionals into marketable brands and building sustainability with the Arts and Culture Sector.

These productions cannot come to fruition without partnerships and collaborations with artists, producers and various stakeholders who assist with the producing, while the cultural institution mandated as a receiving house, provides the venue, which we manage, as well as in-house technical infrastructure.