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Tuesday, October 20, 2015


(2015 ACT Scholarships recipients: Carla Smith, Caleb Heynes & Andiswa Mbolekwa. Pic by Debbie Yazbe)

After a demanding week of rehearsals at the hands of a talented creative team and a tough final round in front of a live audience, Carla Smith, Caleb Heynes and Andiswa Mbolekwa were crowned as triple threats winning the 7th annual ACT | DALRO | Nedbank Performing Arts Scholarships competition.

The 2015 panel of judges included multi-award winning and well-known Durban theatre personality and editor of artSMart, Caroline Smart; manager of Talent-ETC™ Jennis Williamson; University of Johannesburg’s Head of Arts & Culture and award-winning playwright Ashraf Johaardien; writer and director Makhaola Ndebele, and professional dancer and choreographer Charlie van Rooyen.

The trio convinced the judges of their proficiency in singing, dancing and acting, and as a result will be supported in their undergraduate tertiary studies, beginning in 2016.

The top six performers battled it out during the finale hosted at the iconic Market Theatre in order to be one of three winners to be awarded a share of scholarships totaling R315,000.

Great strides were made this year because for the first time the search went to all nine provinces, scoping talent across the length and breadth of South Africa. The judges were given a great task to assess and select only the best to join a long list of performers to partake in the competition, upping the audition performance item numbers from 225 in 2009 to 776 in 2015. Six finalists were chosen through a countrywide audition process, and then coached by a dedicated team of professionals, before putting their best foot forward in front of an illustrious panel of judges, and – possibly the biggest critics of all – a live audience.

“We are delighted to be part of the Performing Arts Scholarships Programme that continuously seeks to discover South Africa’s untapped artistic talent,” enthuses Tobie Badenhorst Head: Sponsorships & Cause Marketing at Nedbank. “As a bank for all, we remain committed to enabling the dreams and goals of young people and are inspired by the great talent the Scholarships Programme continues to unearth. On behalf of Nedbank we would like to congratulate the winners and encourage them to continue to make the things that really matter to them happen.”

With support from the Arts & Culture Trust; the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO) and Nedbank Arts Affinity, the three winners will have the opportunity to study a performing arts course at an accredited South African tertiary institution of their choice. They will also receive practical support beyond their studies, including representation by one of South Africa’s top talent agencies, Talent-ETC™ Artist Management.

“DALRO would like to take this opportunity to not only congratulate the winners, but to also thank them ... Strange we know, but if it weren't for young people such as yourselves, programmes like this one might not even be possible. Thank you for your hard work, your dedication to your craft and talent, and thank you for being passionate,” says DALRO’s Theatrical Rights Supervisor André Cloete.

He further adds: “Working in the performing arts is not only a career but also a calling, and you guys have answered that call. To be a performer looks easy to the audience, but we all know that it takes blood, sweat and tears. Know that ahead of you lies an incredible journey, and that this is only the beginning. Also know that you are joining the ranks of ACT | DALRO | NEDBANK Performing Arts Scholarships royalty, and that the responsibility to keep building this legacy and inspire others to also become storytellers is now in your hands. Study and work hard, and your dreams will keep coming true. So once again, to the finalists and the winners, congratulations and thank you. Now go forth and conquer!”

The flawless Magic in the Making production was crafted with the help of industry professionals Jacques Bessenger (Artistic Director), Franco Prinsloo (Musical Director), Lotanang Makoti (Assistant Director) and previous Scholarships winners Chantèl Evans and Kamogelo Nche, who worked on dance and choreographic elements.

This year’s vibrant host was Raymond Motadi, the 20-year-old TUT Musical Theatre student popularly known to his TshwaneFM radio show listeners as “Mond”. The former National School of the Arts pupil, who aims to make a mark in the South African entertainment scene, is also founder of Rainboukidz – a youth organisation aimed at supporting people in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender community.

CEO of the Arts and Culture Trust, Pieter Jacobs, reflected on what the 7th Scholarships Awards meant for the arts sector, by saying:  “Being involved in the programme since its inception in 2009 - I am tremendously proud of ACT and our sponsors for not allowing some of the gems, who might not have been able to pursue formal performing arts training due to financial constraints, slip through the cracks. Looking into the future, we hope that at least some of them will join the ranks of South African icons who have gone on to do great deeds in the country’s arts fraternity. It is also rewarding to see how the programme has challenged and encouraged aspirant performers to become versatile artists and to raise the bar year after year.”

The 2015 Scholarships Programme was hosted by the Market Theatre with additional support from the National School of the Arts (NSA) and Jade Bowers Design and Management.

ACT would also like to acknowledge support from the following organisations as regional partners: University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Baxter Theatre, Port Elizabeth Opera House (PEOH), Market Theatre, Mayibuye Arts Centre, University of the Free State's Scaena Theatre, Witbank Civic Theatre and NWU Artéma Instituut vir Kunstebestuur en Ontwikkeling.

For more information on the Scholarships programme, visit