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Future Arts Programme


The National Arts Festival and Grahamstown Foundation’s Regional Schools’ Festival has been a fixture on the South African schools’ calendars for 45 years but it’s also adapting to Covid times by developing an exciting film-making project called the Future Arts Programme.

Funded by National Lottery Commission, the Grahamstown Foundation and National Arts Festival are excited and proud to be teaming up with the Market Theatre Laboratory to deliver the digital programme for schools. The deadline to submit participation forms is just ahead, on 24 February 2021, and the project is open to participation from schools in all nine South African provinces.

The Market Theatre Laboratory has conceptualised a series of pre-recorded workshops for the Future Arts Programme, created by a selection of respected South African artists. The workshops are designed to be experienced by students in their schools environment and facilitated by their own educators.

Schools can commence with the programme from 11 March and it will be available to learners during March and April

the workshops include:

• DEVISING with Kgomotso ‘MoMo’ Matsunyane
• NARRATIVE with Ameera Patel
• SPACE, LIGHT and ART DIRECTION with Jemma Kahn
• OBJECTS and PUPPETRY with Liezl de Kock and Rob Murray
• MOVEMENT with Billy Langa
• CAMERA and COLLATION with Daniel Buckland
• CAMERA and COLLATION with Mongiwekhaya Mthombeni
• SOUND with Nhlanhla Mahlangu

The schools enroll and learners work in small groups to progressively produce a short film. The project will give learners access to new technology and tools, build skills and share creativity across schools, and will ensure that learners get feedback on the work they have produced.

The format will also allow schools to integrate the two-day workshop process in a way that suits them. Participation is open to Grades 10, 11 and 12 learners within arts subjects e.g. the visual arts, music, drama, dance and media studies. The Regional Schools Festival is open to learners in all nine provinces and participation is free

Kgomotso ‘MoMo’ Matsunyane will present a workshop on Devising for the Regional Schools Festival.
Physical performer and theatre-maker Billy Langa will present a workshop on Movement on the Regional Schools’ Festival programme

Why we’re partnering with Market Theatre Laboratory

The Market Theatre Laboratory trains actors and theatre makers. Founded by Barney Simon and Dr John Kani in 1988, it is the educational arm of the Market Theatre, and has developed into one of the premiere training facilities of its kind in Southern Africa. It has trained exceptional performers and theatre-makers including Olive Schreiner Award winner Phillip Dikotla, three Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year winners, Monageng Motshabi (2016), Prince Lamla (2013), and Mncedisi Shabangu (2014), and SAFTA award winners Harriet Manamela, Warren Masemola and Lindiwe Ndlovu. In addition, the Market Theatre Laboratory stood up to the challenges of 2020 by swiftly transforming its syllabus and approach to continue to teach the performing arts under lockdown conditions, embracing new education for new formats in the context of diverse digital-access scenarios.

the National arts festival online

The National Arts Festival similarly transformed its National Arts Festival to an online programme, facilitating over 260 works in 2020 at a time when live events were cancelled and South Africans were under the harshest lockdown levels experienced yet, welcoming 85,000 audience members to this new form of virtual festival. Through this process artists developed many new ways of pushing creativity and innovation despite phenomenal constraint. In response the National Arts Festival developed new ways of supporting its artists to produce and present their work. With all these experiences, the National Arts Festival and the Grahamstown Foundation are more determined than ever to push our sector forward into a new age working with our next generation of artists in new ways.

Digital screens and vlogging kits are needed to participate. With the support of the National Arts Council and Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, the National Arts Festival has designed a “studio in a box”, that includes a smart TV loaded with video-on-demand workshop content and a vlogging kit to enable participation in this pioneering programme despite the digital divide. The boxes will be loaned out based on the expressed needs of participating schools.

Says project director, Rucera Seethal, “In these times, what we need to be investing in is imagination; creating beyond our confines and imagining new ways of making art. It is so very important to find a connection to our next generation of artists, and support them to find ways to carve out their stories and share them. The pandemic has shown us that the arts can shift, reimagine and connect people and ideas in ways we never thought possible. Giving learners a window into creating digital art under the guidance of some of the most exciting arts practitioners in our country at present, not only brings inspiration and hope, but skills necessary for an increasingly digitally connected society.”

Schools interested in participating in the Regional Schools’ Festival can contact Lily May

2019 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre, Jemma Kahn will be presenting a workshop on Space/Light and Art Direction on the Regional Schools’ Festival’s Future Arts programme