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Sunday, July 27, 2014


(Gregory Maqoma of Vuyani Dance Theatre in “Exit-Exist”)

The role that arts and culture plays in a society is often underestimated, yet it brings a multitude of business and societal benefits.

For this reason, Nedbank has been an active supporter and funder of the arts and culture heritage over the last two decades.

Benefits that result from the arts are not always measured through conventional scientific methods. However, a study by Canadian organisation Business for the Arts suggested that investment in the field helps to promote regional development, enhance community development and plays an active role in promoting new cultures to citizens, ultimately developing a more cohesive society. The study also notes that a strong arts and culture industry assists in attracting tourists, thereby boosting a number of other service-led businesses.

“The Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) has contributed immensely to the 20 years of democracy of South Africa by developing and preserving the arts and cultural heritage of our country. During this period, over R20 million has been disbursed to key projects, bursaries and scholarships,” says Maseda Ratshikuni, Head of Cause Marketing at Nedbank.

He says that the Nedbank Arts Affinity Programme, which was also established 20 years ago, has so far donated R15 million to ACT. The programme includes a suite of investment and banking accounts, which when used by a client, automatically results in Nedbank donating a sum of money to ACT at no cost to the client. “The programme is an innovative way to fund South African arts, culture and heritage, because it ensures that these important projects have a continuous source of income for years to come.”

ACT has supported more than 800 developmental arts and culture projects in South Africa, including the Artist Proof Studio in Newtown, Johannesburg - an innovative community printmaking centre of excellence that provides a professional studio, gallery and education projects. The Vuyani Dance Theatre was created as a non-profit organisation 15 years ago and has also been internationally acclaimed with shows in Paris, London, New York and Singapore.

Ratshikuni says Nedbank has a strong focus on education as part of its corporate social investment mandate, adding that the arts has a crucial role to fill in nurturing the youth and improving educational standards. Artist Mallika Sarabhai said: “Art is not the cherry on the cake, it is the yeast’, and this holds particularly true in the arena of education,” he adds. “A number of studies have shown an improvement in literacy when people take part in drama, whilst structured music activities aids better performance in maths and languages.”

In order to foster a sustainable future for arts and culture development in South Africa, ACT made a number of bursaries available to students from institutions such as the Durban Music School, Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Art, and the Centre for Fine Art, Animation and Design in Durban.

Since 2009, ACT, together with Nedbank and the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO), has awarded performing arts scholarships to the value of almost R1 million, aimed at Grade 12 learners and individuals younger than 25 years of age who are not yet registered for an undergraduate degree or already a professional performing artist.

“The funding of music, dance and other arts and culture projects is just one of the ways in which Nedbank contributes to the upliftment of the communities in which we serve,” says Ratshikuni. “Nedbank will continue on this richly rewarding journey together with the arts fraternity, as it provides an illuminating mirror through which we as a society can reflect on our past, stimulate dialogue about our present, and look forward to the future together.”