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Wednesday, July 5, 2023



(Above: Rick Baloyi)


by Heather Dugmore

(All pics supplied)

“I was a newbie and I didn’t know a thing about the art world. I have always drawn so I had a bit of experience on the practical side, but at university I learnt about the background of art. The theory and history of art fascinates me, as does learning about artists and the art world. And I now do sculpture, painting and drawing.’

Speaking from his residence room at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Rick Baloyi, the 2019 visual arts winner of the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) |DALRO | Nedbank Scholarship, as it was called then, is now in the final year of his art degree.

From 2009 to 2019, the ACT scholarship winner in each of the arts categories, namely, dance, visual arts, drama, music, singing and performance, received R50,000. Since 2022, it is called the ACT Nyoloha Scholarship Programme (NSP), it is sponsored by Nedbank and Sun International, and two winners are each awarded scholarships of R350,000 for higher education study. Young people aged 17 to 25 with the required academic qualifications from throughout South Africa are eligible to apply.

Baloyi says: “To cover my university fees, I successfully applied for a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursary. I used the ACT scholarship money and income from the sales of my work to cover my art materials costs.’

‘I’ve come a long way since my first year, and Joburg has definitely grown on me,’ says Baloyi who grew up in a village in northern Limpopo. ‘I attend art exhibitions and I have access to art libraries and galleries. The international artist I am currently interested in is Lucian Freud – I like his still life portraits. When you look at the work you feel the artist and the person he is drawing and painting; there is emotion and soul in the work and I aspire to achieve this in my portraits. I love featuring people from our country’s many traditional and hybrid cultures, as well as the urban life around me – from buildings to street scenes.’

(Right: Anja Erasmus)

Baloyi and 2019 ACT Scholarship visual art finalist, Anja Erasmus from Middleburg, Mpumalanga, were both invited by the Nedbank Arts Affinity and ACT to showcase their work at the 2022 Nedbank International Polo event at the Inanda Club in Johannesburg. The theme was the New Nobility, placing an emphasis on nobility as a virtue rather than a title, and the artists interpreted this in their work.

“For me, the new nobility is every person,” says Baloyi. “Because this was a Nedbank event, I wanted to convey the people who use banks, beyond the large businesses; the ordinary people, like me, who travel in taxis.”

Erasmus chose a similar “every person” theme from a Christian perspective: “Jesus changed what noble means,” she explains. Usually, it’s the rich or powerful who claim the title of “noble”, but Jesus was a carpenter on a donkey. His message is those that are last will be first and those that are first will be last. He served everyone. He was the new noble who came to show us what the new nobility looks like.”

Tobie Badenhorst, Head of Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank says: “To be an artist in any of the arts is a gift. To grow as an artist and establish and sustain a career in the arts is a commitment to yourself, a commitment to your discipline, a commitment to rising above life’s challenges to achieve your true potential and being able to call yourself an artist. It is wonderful to see so many of the ACT scholarship winners and finalists becoming true artists.”

(Left: Tshepang Dean)

 The 2019 ACT Scholarship winner for music was Tshepang Dean from Mbombela, Mpumalanga, who is now in the third year of his BCom marketing management degree at UJ. Like many South Africans, his mother struggled to provide for him and his brother after the death of their father, but she made sure they received the best education possible. To cover his university fees, he used his ACT scholarship money plus the proceeds from his music and a bursary from NSFAS.

“I decided a BCom was the best option for me in order to understand the music marketing business properly while working on my musical career,” Dean explains. “In simple terms, I know how to make music, but I need to learn how to make a living from it,” he explains.

Tshepang is a singer, pianist, songwriter and producer: “I want my music to create a path of real, positive storytelling, and to leave a legacy that lives beyond me, no matter how big or small,” he says.

At the end of 2022, Tshepang Dean completed his latest music production, The Afri-Funk Collection – a series of vocal African music he has written, composed, arranged and produced. “Through music and visual storytelling, my aim is to commercialise the Afri-Funk sound,” he explains.

(Right: Tshepang Dean performing at the 2022 Afri-Funk launch)

“Each of the five video episodes in the series is 90 seconds long and is being showcased on YouTube. It was put together through a great collaboration of cinematographers and the director, Mary Jane, all from AFDA, plus actors, editors and colour graders. In effect, we started our own production company and the episodes are for sale to television and streaming channels, locally and internationally.”

To pay for his productions, he does freelance work including performing on piano at the 2022 ACT NSP scholarship finale and other Nedbank events. He also works on weekends as the music and vocal director, and the pianist, for Khanya City Church in Braamfontein. “As the musical director I make sure that all the instruments and vocalists work in harmony. We do a lot of African hymns and I am well versed in that space.” Later this year, he will be partnering in a community initiative to open a live music event at 163 Smits Street, Braamfontein to create a platform for all aspirant and established musicians.

(Right: Wonder Ndlovu behind the scenes of Netflix “Justice Served’)

Making his mark in the acting world is the winner of the 2017 ACT Scholarship for drama, Wonder Ndlovu, who graduated from the Market Theatre Laboratory in 2019. He currently stars in the Netflix series Justice Served as well as the Mzansi Magic telenovela Gomora and Ingane Ka Baba – a film by Bomb Productions.

Hailing from KwaZulu-Natal, Ndlovu has written, directed and performed at arts festivals, in theatre productions and national and international television productions, and is the recipient of Naledi and KZN Art Celebration awards.

 “After winning the scholarship, I came to Johannesburg to study,” he explains. “I didn’t have any relatives, family or friends, here, just a chance to study, to hone my talent, achieve my dreams, and not let my less fortunate background stand in my way.

“Being away from home demanded a lot of discipline and maturity to start making important decisions about my life, knowing that I can make a difference to my family’s situation back home.

“The Market Theatre Lab was an intense two-year course with many different students from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. It taught me a lot about other people and about myself; about working with actors and creatives; and, most importantly, about collaboration.”

That same year he married actress, Chaunees Tsholofelo Bokaba, and they have a child, which put additional responsibility on him to provide for his young family.

“I feel really blessed to be where I am today; God has made it possible. The very dreams that seemed impossible are becoming my reality; it’s surreal. If it wasn’t for the resilience, the passion, and the prayers, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

The term ‘nyoloha’ means ‘to rise’ in Sesotho, and that is what the ACT Nyoloha Scholarship Programme (NSP), scholarship winners and finalists are doing to develop their careers, and to make dreams that seemed impossible a reality.

“While there are only two ACT NSP scholarship winners, the overall goal of the programme is to nurture all the participants in their respective art forms and prepare them for the world of work,” says Badenhorst. “That is why we added the three-month professional online training and mentorship programme for up to 75 ACT NSP applicants per year. The programme includes self-development, people management, entrepreneurship, marketing and communication skills.”

ACT Interim CEO Jessica Denyschen says “The application process reveals the immense talent and drive of young people from all over South Africa. In 2022, out of 89 applications countrywide, 54 were selected to attend the three months of training and mentorship. From this group, 15 finalists were selected and the awards night was in October.”

The 2023 ACT NSP is well on its way. Applications closed on March 31 this year. Applicants who scored highly for their video and portfolio submissions were invited for an online interview during April and May. The training and mentorship programme takes place online from June 10 to August 19, 2023. The scholarships finals week will be held in Johannesburg from October 2 to 7, and the scholarship winners accounted at a gala event on Saturday, October 7, 2023.

For more information: ACT website at


NB: To link directly to the ACT website click on the ACT logo to the right of this article.