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Monday, November 17, 2014


Over the past 17 years, The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT), has supported young talent in the arts and honoured those who have significantly contributed to the industry. For their 20th Anniversary, the ACT Awards are setting the stage to pay homage to both legacies and legends alike.

The ACT Awards have recognised over130 individuals and organisations for their significant contribution to art, culture and heritage in South Africa. These awards show the sustainable impact ACT pursues in the creative industry. For the fourth year, ACT and Distell Foundation will award four young professionals or groups who have made an impact during the first five years of their careers.

Among the finalists is Fortune Bengu, a visual arts coordinator at The Bat Centre in Durban. He recently finished his degree in Fine Art at the Durban University of Technology, majoring in Art Theory and Printmaking. He has exhibited in various group shows locally and abroad. His recent participation in an exhibition was in 2013 at the Imago Mundi: The Art of Humanity exhibition. Bengu has helped a number of artists such as Wonder Mbambo and Mhlonishwa Chiliza launch their careers, as well as other emerging artists in Durban. He also recently launched an initiative at the Bat Centre which seeks to aid older artists who may have given up on their talent.

Irma Albers from Distell Foundation says “We are proud to be involved with the ACT Awards. By investing in emerging talent particularly through the ImpACT Awards, we hope to play an important role in raising standards and spreading interest and appreciation for newcomers in the South African creative arts industry, locally and abroad. Congratulations to all the participants and winners - we wish you all a bright future, as you establish yourself as key role players in building the economy of our country.”

ImpACT Awards are given annually to honour young artists that have reached a notable level in their careers and public nominations in the categories of Theatre, Visual Art, Design and Music& Singing were invited.

“By benchmarking excellence the ACT Awards set industry standards. In addition, the process of identifying recipients highlights those creative professionals working in the industry who not only meet but exceed those standards thereby raising the bar. What this does is highlight exceptional talent in the industry. This spotlight creates a platform for these individuals who might not otherwise receive this kind of recognition - recognition that has the potential to powerfully propel sustainable careers in a highly competitive industry, "says Pieter Jacobs, CEO of ACT.

The finalists for the 2014 ImpACT Awards include fashion and interior designers, and concept brands; fine art print-makers, curators and entrepreneurs; singers, songwriters and musicians; and playwrights, actors and directors. Every year the variety in skill and talent make the judging process even tougher, and this year is no exception. Each winner will receive a feature in ClassicFeel Magazine to the value of over R25 000 and a cash prize of R 1 500.

The judges for the ImpACT Awards include visual artist David Koloane, fashion designer Eugienie Drakes, jazz musician Herbie Tsoaeli and Moving into Dance Mophatong’s Nadia Virasamy. Caroline Smart, the convenor of the judging panel and ACT Trustee says: “As always, it’s an extremely difficult decision to make – to choose four successful candidates out of a very impressive list. However, a choice has to be made and the panel has to look at a number of issues; the most important issue being the potential development of the individual in his or her chosen arts discipline. Another facet is how the acknowledgement of the ImpACT Award could make a difference in enhancing the recipient’s career. What is also very important is to acknowledge the philosophy of the Arts & Culture Trust’s sponsors and to make sure the recipient reflects these with pride.”

The cornerstone of the ACT Awards is the presentation of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards for Theatre, Music, Visual Art and Literature. Lifetime Achievement Award winners are nominated and selected by the ACT Board of Trustees, the recipient is someone that the sponsors are proud to acknowledge for their contribution to the arts. This year ACT has added a category of Arts Advocacy to these Awards, launched in partnership with ClassicFeel Magazine, honouring patrons in the arts who have devoted a lifetime of work to supporting the arts.

The judges, being members of the ACT board of Trustees and the committee, specifically choose winners who stand out from the artistic excellence of their work; their experience in the industry and the impact this has had on their community and the commerce of the creative industry as a whole. The Lifetime Achievement Award winners are given R30 000 each, totalling an impressive R600 000 since 2008.

The 2014 ACT Awards ceremony is sponsored by Nedbank Arts Affinity, hosted by Sun International and presented in association with the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO), Media24 Books, ClassicFeel Magazine and is supported by the Distell Foundation and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA).