The opportunity to win a fully paid scholarship valued at R350 000 to study at a South African arts institution of choice is drawing closer. Since early July 2022, 54 qualifying participants selected for the Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) Nyoloha Scholarship Programme (NSP), a partnership between ACT, Nedbank Arts Affinity and sponsors Sun International and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), have been attending fortnightly virtual training sessions under the mentorship of award-winning musical theatre and stage performer, Samantha Peo (Performing Arts), and renowned fine artist and Sasol New Signatures fine art competition finalist, Estelle Dry-Muller (Visual Arts).
During the first month of workshop training in July, both Samantha Peo and Estelle Dry-Muller focused extensively on self-identity techniques as a mode for storytelling through one’s art. Students were given the tools and methods to transfer their experiences and perception of the world into original stories, expressed through their respective art forms. Some of the training techniques included self-awareness and self-confidence building exercises, which bolstered confidence in the students as artists, the art they make and as young individuals striving to build sustainable careers within a contemporary and perhaps precarious arts industry. Consequently, this saw the mentors engage the young scholars on modern skills that are essential for contemporary artists, for example, the visual arts workshops included modules on diversification of income streams and digitisation of visual artworks. At the end of July, the participants were rated on their first body of created work.
During August, participants used the feedback they received from the mentors to reinvent their creative journey and define their distinctive style, to improve their ratings and increase their chances of being selected as one of the top 12 ACT NSP finalists or one of the three wild cards also selected to participate in the rehearsal week in Johannesburg, from 3 to 7 October 2022, and ultimately the finals on 8 October.
During the upcoming rehearsal week, the selected 15 finalists will take part in tours of art institutions and participate in masterclasses, facilitated by their mentors. They will also get the opportunity to meet and interact with the esteemed visual artist, Baba Tjeko, and musician, Holly Rey.
The exclusive and specially curated black-tie gala awards evening will be attended by invited guests and members of the media. Members of the public and the arts community are invited to follow this iteration via the live stream of the event at no charge. Details will soon be available on the ACT’s social media platforms.
The gala evening will feature art, entertainment and performances by the music, drama, and dance participants, while all nine visual artists will exhibit their original artworks. Proceeds from the sale of these artworks will go towards the scholarship programme.
‘As we celebrate some of this country’s finest young emerging talent, we also recognise the dedication of the two Nyoloha mentors, Samantha Peo and Estelle Dry-Muller, who passionately trained, encouraged and equipped the participants to do their best and have a chance to win the ACT NSP award,’ says Jessica Denyschen, Interim CEO, Arts and Culture Trust. ‘We look forward to announcing the 15 finalists and wish them a wonderful week of workshops and activities ahead of the gala evening when the winner will be announced.’
Tobie Badenhorst, Head of Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank, says: ‘The talent, courage, commitment, and growth of the 54 participants in the mentorship programme, representing dance, visual arts, drama, music, singing and performance, have made us even more proud to be South African. As young people, they are impressively aware of their deep purpose, and although there can only be one winner of the scholarship, we want to encourage each and every participant to pursue their art ambitions and careers. The mentorship programme was carefully designed to nurture their art forms, and they have excelled.’
Heidi Edson, Head of SED Sun International Group, says: ‘For decades, Sun International has been the premier entertainment venue around the country for showcasing the arts, music, dance, and theatre, so we fully endorse the valuable work that ACT Nyoloha is undertaking in communities. Through their programmes and scholarships, they offer young creative talent an important platform not just to grow but to flourish, and we are proud to be associated with the work they are doing.’