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ACT AWARDS 2007 WINNERS (article first published : 2007-11-9)

The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) helps to foster and develop creativity in South Africa through the evaluation and support of arts, culture and heritage projects. Launched just months after the inauguration of the first democratically elected government, ACT is the oldest body established to fund arts and culture in democratic South Africa. Since 1996 more than R12 million has been disbursed in support of 500 projects funded through ACT in all disciplines including but not limited to arts administration, arts education, community art, festivals, heritage, craft, fine art, dance, music, theatre, literature and multi-disciplinary projects. Former President Nelson Mandela, endorsed the initiative and agreed to serve as the Patron-in-Chief of ACT. In this way, ACT was initially called the Arts and Culture Trust of the President until 1999.

Comprising leading art practitioners and administrators, the ACT Board of Trustees, is tasked with the implementation of funding policies, the evaluation of projects and the allocation of funds. Due regard is given to ensuring a spread of projects across all the cultural and artistic disciplines. ACT also provides bursary funds to formal and informal educational institutions specialising in arts and culture, and these in turn distribute such funds to individual students at their institutions.

Since 1998 the ACT Awards have recognised more than 90 winners and nearly 300 finalists, all of whom are outstanding individuals, organisations and agencies that have played an important supportive role in the development of arts, culture and creativity in South Africa. The judging panel for the ACT Awards 2007 was convened by US Consulate Senior Cultural Specialist Ismail Mohammed and also included award-winning theatre actress Vinette Ebrahim; Woutrine Theron, Head of Drama at Tshwane University of Technology and editor and publisher of The South African Art Times, Gabriel Clarke-Brown.

The winners of the ACT Awards 2007 were announced at a glittering ceremony hosted at Nedbank Sandton in Johannesburg recently presented by Nedbank and supported by CLASSICfeel Magazine. The Cape Town partner of the Awards was Fine Music Radio 101.3 and the Gauteng partner was 102.7 Classic fM. Categories were sponsored by the Vodacom Foundation, Distell, Sun International and Exclusive Books.

The winner of the ACT Arts Management Award 2007 supported by Exclusive Books was Georgina Thomson. With 23 years of arts administration experience under her belt, her work has varied between marketing and publicity of the arts, company management, festival direction and programming, project management and fundraising. She has directed the Dance Umbrella since 1997. The Dance Umbrella runs for three weeks in Johannesburg and includes commissioned new works from South African choreographers, a New Moves programme for up-and-coming artists and the Stepping Stones programme for youth and community groups. The festival also includes selected international companies which conduct Master classes while in Johannesburg. Over the three years that the Dance Forum has been operating it has run the Dance Umbrella where it instituted various Residency Developmental programmes and in 2004, added another platform, the New Dance Festival to its calendar. New Dance focuses on connecting dance practitioners from the rest of Africa with South Africa as well as an annual residency and workshop programmes for emerging choreographers and dancers. The event has proved very successful in bringing African dance practitioners together. During 2006/2007 the Dance Forum has facilitated several residency programmes. Richard Cock and Aubrey Sekhabi were the other finalists in this category.

Producer for the current affairs programme 3rd Degree, Nadia Neophytou won the ACT Arts Correspondent Award 2007 and the ACT Cultural Development Award 2007 went to The Community Publishing Project housed at the Centre for the Book in Cape Town. The ACT Chairperson’s Award 2007 was won by Jikeleza, a non profit organisation established in 2002 by Edmund Thwaites and Atholl Hay as part of Cape Town City Ballet’s outreach programme in the informal settlement of Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay.

ACT Trustee Brenda Devar and Mr Mthobi Tyamzashe, Chairman of the Vodacom Foundation presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2007 sponsored by The Vodacom Foundation to writer, Ronnie Govender, formerly of KZN now living in Cape Town. Presenting the award Brenda Devar said, “I believe that true success is measured by the ability to endure and adapt to changing circumstances without losing creative passion, moral vision or faith. Ronnie Govender identified his exacting creative role at every stage of his life and played it with commitment and conviction. He remains a vital contributor to our dynamic cultural life and heritage. An artist who manages to entertain and chronicle the times in inspired phrases, situations and moods, who successfully leaves his reader or audience with an emotional resonance long after the curtain has dropped or the book is closed, deserves to be saluted.” Made at the discretion of the ACT Board of Trustees the previous winners of this accolade have included Gibson Kente, Es’kia Mphalele, Sylvia Glasser, Sophie Mgcina and most recently Esther Mahlangu who won the award last year.

The Department of Arts & Culture, Nedbank Sun International and The Vodacom Foundation are the Founding Trustees of ACT. The Royal Netherlands Embassy is a Founding Sponsor and Athol Fugard is Patron of the Trust. For more information visit www.act.org.za




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