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YOUNG ARTIST AWARDS FOR 2007 (article first published : 2006-12-15)

Standard Bank celebrated the scope of South African artists and artistry its 2007 Young Artist Awards. These awards acknowledge and applaud the tenacity and originality of young South African artists, and seek to actively encourage, promote and develop their aspirations.

The winners of the 2007 Standard Bank Young Artist Awards are Pieter Hugo for Visual Art; Akin Omotoso for Film; Acty Tang for Dance; Shannon Mowday for Jazz and Bronwen Forbay for Music.

"Standard Bank’s sponsorship of the Young Artist Awards contributes to the development of our country's up-and-coming artists,” says Mandie van der Spuy, Head of Art and Jazz Sponsorship at Standard Bank. “The awards are a forum for experimentation where innovative concepts are tested and new directions explored. We believe the awards play a vital role in nurturing South African talent.”

The Young Artist Awards recognise South Africans of a relatively young age who have demonstrated exceptional artistic promise within their discipline and who have not yet achieved extensive national exposure and acclaim. The awards were designed to assist in promoting the careers of those selected.

The Standard Bank has sponsored the awards for 23 years and some 84 artists have been recipients of the awards since their inception in 1981. Previous winners include the likes of Andrew Buckland (1986), William Kentridge (1987), Darryl Roodt (1991), Sibongile Ngoma (1997), Bongani Nododana (1998), Gregory Maqoma (2002) and Yael Faber (2003).

The 2007 recipients are certainly worthy of the recognition. Former Durban soprano Bronwen Forbay, currently a third year Doctor of Musical Arts student at the University of Cincinnati, was delighted at the news, saying “This award affirms that the sacrifices I have made to improve myself and my art have been worthwhile.”

Actor/director/producer Akin Omotoso’s feature film God is African was screened at the 2003 National Arts Festival to critical acclaim and his short films have been selected for screenings at the prestigious Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals.

Winner of the Portraits section of the 2006 World Press Photo competition, Pieter Hugo says his images document the many and varied global social issues that plague African and developing nations. The award means a great deal to Hugo who said, “It is refreshing that there is now the space where we can appreciate photographic images beyond the urgency of photojournalism.”

Jazz aficionado Shannon Mowday has been practicing her art since the age of 12. This predominantly self-taught musician has performed as both soloist and band-member alongside a host of local and international jazz musicians, and her band Galumphing has graced the stages of Jazz Festivals across the country.

Performer/choreographer Acty Tang was outspoken in his appreciation for the award and the opportunities it would afford him. In acknowledgement he said, “I feel it was a brave award that recognises the diversity of dance forms and dancers who don’t fit into the existing concepts of culture, politics or artistic form”.

As part of their prize, each of the winners will be featured on the Main Programme of the 2007 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown (June 28 to July 7). In addition to a cash prize, they will receive the financial backing required to mount their presentation, be it a production or exhibition. “The Standard Bank Young Artist Awards are a vital element of art initiatives in South Africa,” said newly appointed Chairperson of the National Arts Festival Committee, Sibongile Khumalo. “They allow space for experimentation and give affirmation to developing talent. Standard Bank has gone a long way in giving credit to these young artists.” Festivalgoers can look forward to some cutting-edge presentations that will remind them that the South African arts are enriched by a multitude of cultures.




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