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Wednesday, October 12, 2022


(Above: Liam Rose who received the Visual Arts Scholarship Award)

It was a night of surprises at the Arts & Culture Trust Nyoloha Scholarship Programme Awards.

After a week of rehearsals and masterclasses, the fifteen finalists selected to possibly walk away with a fully paid scholarship valued at R350 000 to study for an arts degree at a South African arts institution of choice waited with baited breath to hear the announcement of the winner of Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) Nyoloha Scholarship Programme. Just as the winner was about to be announced, ACT Interim CEO, Jessica Denyschen made a surprise announcement. Not one, but two scholarships would be awarded, one in each of the artforms, namely Visual Arts and Performance Arts. 

The excitement and anticipation amongst the finalists and guests attending the gala event held at Montecasino on October 8, 2022 was evident. Sounds of joy and clapping emanated when 20-year-old Liam Rose from Randburg, Gauteng received the Visual Arts Scholarship Award. He thanked the ACT and Programme funders, saying: “We need more scholarships, there is a whole generation of young artists coming through. Thank you for giving me this responsibility, I will do my best to make the most of it.”

Performing artist Marang Khwene from Pretoria said she literally felt like she was dreaming when she heard her name announced as winner of the Performing Arts discipline. “Can someone just pinch me?” said 10-year-old Khwene. Both the scholarship winners completed their secondary schooling at the National School of the Arts (NSA). 

The surprises kept coming!  During the ceremony the Market Theatre Laboratory invited finalists India Wesi (17 from Sandton, Gauteng) and Yolo Mazwai (18 from Craighall Park, Gauteng) to audition for their two-year performance and theatre skills course. Moving into Dance offered a one-year scholarship to dancer and performer Sanele Kobe (25). These surprise additional offerings not only inspired the recipients but also the audience who gave the finalists a standing ovation for their interpretation of the theme “What Matters”.

The audience were possibly the most surprised by the quality, originality and dedication of the finalists to their respective crafts. The visual artists exhibited their works of art and the performing artists presented a show of movement, dance and song that was touching and impactful while taking the audience on a different journey with each interpretation. “All 15 of the finalists deserved to win. I am hoping that arts organisations and agents attending the ceremony will take them further,” said Artistic Director, Mapula Setlhako.

The scholarship is part of the annual Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) Nyoloha Scholarship Programme, funded by Nedbank and Sun International and supported this year by Business and Arts South Africa (BASA). Earlier this year, 89 young South Africans applied for the ACT Nyoloha Scholarship Programme.  After an audition process, 54 were selected to attend a rigorous, three-month online mentorship programme, culminating in a week of workshops and tours of artists institutions and then the awards ceremony.

“The scholarships are the grand prize but we wanted the programme to be more than this, which is why from this year we introduced the three months mentorship programme for up to 60 artists,” said Tobie Badenhorst, Head of Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank.

Heidi Edson, Head of SED Sun International Group, says: “I was blown away by and reminded of the immense talent we have in South Africa. Sun International is extremely proud and grateful to be part of the ACT Nyoloha Scholarship journey and is elated for all the finalists and of course the two winning artists. We are committed to supporting the Arts & Culture Trust in the important and impactful work they do and look forward to growing this partnership. Congratulations to all the finalists and to the ACT team.”

In Sesotho “Nyoloha” means “to rise” and at the ceremony, ACT interim CEO, Jessica Denyschen told the finalists: “You are the future of arts and culture of South Africa. I sometimes wonder where we are going in our country until I see such amazing talent rising. Thank you to everyone who is behind our young people.”

Taking what they have learnt and experienced during the Nyoloha Scholarship Programme, working with mentors Estelle Dry-Muller (Visual Arts) and Samantha Peo (Performing Arts) the participants are sure to continue rising, taking their place in the world of arts and performance. Watch this space!

To keep in touch with the Arts and Culture Trust, visit their website by clicking on the ACT logo to the right of this article, follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page.