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FUGARD PATRON FOR ACT (article first published : 2007-06-27)

The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) has announced that South African icon Athol Fugard is the new Patron of the Trust. ACT is the oldest body established to fund arts and culture in democratic South Africa and the Founding Trustees include The Department of Arts and Culture, The Royal Netherlands Embassy, Nedbank, Sun International and The Vodacom Foundation. As Patron, Fugard follows in the footsteps of former President Nelson Mandela who previously served in the same role during his term of office.

"ACT is honoured to have Athol Fugard lend his name and the support of his international reputation to revitalise and endorse the important work that we are doing to support South African arts and culture," said Ashraf Johaardien, playwright and general manager of ACT. Johaardien was privileged to meet with Fugard in California earlier this year where he was attending the USA premiere of his own play Happy Endings Are Extra in San Diego. He was invited to meet with Fugard and took the opportunity to bring the work of the Trust to Fugard's attention.

Fugard has written a total of 37 plays, many of which have been filmed, with Fugard acting in several. He also acted in other films: Meetings with Remarkable Men (1970), Gandhi (1982) and The Killing Fields (1984). His work has garnered him many prizes in South Africa and abroad, and he has received more than 20 honorary degrees from universities throughout the world. He has also been elected a fellow of the British Royal Society of Literature (1986) and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1988).

Commenting as new Patron of ACT, Fugard said, "The arts are the soul of a people: they express their joys and sorrows, their fears and their hopes. The history of our cultural heritage is one to be preserved and inspire us to new creation. The fledgling productions of our new artists need all the help they can get, and are as vital for society as food and drink are vital for survival. One should not simply nourish the body, but one needs also to nourish the heart."

"I was fortunate enough to have a mother who supported me during my struggling years. Now, The Arts and Culture Trust can function as a mother to support the artists of this our motherland: South Africa. I urge everyone to help to the extent that they can. It is not enough simply to survive, but one also needs a life of quality, and the arts make this possible."




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