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GENDER & HIV/AIDS AWARENESS CAMPAIGN (article first published : 2006-01-23)

In September 2005, the locally based BEES development organisation answered a call from a joint European Union/South African development initiative that goes under the name of Conferences, Workshops and Cultural Initiatives (CWCI). The proposal submitted by BEES and its implementation partners, Maltre Productions and Bandwagon Afrika, centred on using indigenous music and musicians to promote gender and HIV/Aids awareness.

In many ways this is a natural progression from the work that BEES has been carrying out in the province over the past four years. BEES is a development organisation that specialises in Small Enterprise, Skills and Local Economic Development projects. It provides innovative approaches, staff and organisational capacity building as well as programme management services in South Africa and other African countries.

KwaZulu-Natal projects that BEES has facilitated and which relate to the music industry include: The KZN Indigenous Music Development Project, which was funded by the National Lottery Trust Distribution Fund and supported by the KZN Department of Economic Development and Tourism. The objectives of this project was to carry out training programmes for indigenous musicians and their management to ensure that they were better equipped to make a successful career in the music industry. This project was a finalist for the 2004 Nedbank Arts and Culture Awards and was awarded an Impumelelo Innovations Trust Award for 2004/2005.

In the first quarter of 2005, BEES and its local partners carried out a Performance Venue Survey for the KZN Department of Economic Development and Finance. The aim of this survey was to investigate the opportunities for the development of new performance platforms for local musicians and the DEDF has now taken this project into its second phase.

With funding from the MAPPSETA and managed by CREATESA, BEES developed and ran a learnership called National Certificate: Live Event Technical Production, in partnership with the Durban Institute of Technologies Entertainment Technology Department in 2004. Twenty Learners were trained through this course, with twelve of them graduating with a certificate at National Qualifications Framework’s (NQF) level 4.

In 2005 two further learnerships were carried out, again with funding from the Skills Development Fund via the MAPPSETA and managed by CREATESA. The first focused on Music Business and Management and the second on Live Event Technical Production. Again twenty learners were trained on each course with a total of seventeen eligible for certificates at NQF level 4.

With funding from the Norwegian/South African development organization, MMINO, the KZN Indigenous Music Development Project model was used to carry out a training programme for musicians and their management based in the Maputaland region of Northern KwaZulu-Natal in 2005.

Some of the individuals and organisations that have assisted in the implementation of these projects include The BAT Centre Trust, TransAfrica Express, DIT’s Entertainment Technology Department, United Rhythms Recording Studio, Maltre Productions, Bandwagon Afrika, Splashy Fen Music Festival, Awesome Africa Music Festival, Rainbow Restaurant, Ugu District Municipality, Rocky Ridge Backpackers and Restaurant, Talana Museum, Sharon Katz and The Peace Train, Johnny Dimba, Radio Maputaland, Cato Manor Heritage Centre, Radio Sunny South, Gamalakhe FET College, SkillsPro SA, Gearhouse, Kingston Sound, Black Coffee Productions, Hire Zone and uShaka Marine World.

With regards to the CWCI awareness campaign, the project will have two phases. The first phase is already being rolled out and involves the staging of musical events in various target areas around the province, working with local partners and featuring locally based musical acts and poets. Besides providing an exciting platform from which to spread gender and HIV/Aids awareness messages, the performers on the day are also judged on their professionalism and originality. The most promising groups from each concert will be invited to attend workshops that will assist in their development. Further, they will be assisted in composing an original song that relates to gender and HIV/Aids awareness or developing a song they have already composed that addresses these issues.

Phase two will involve the recording and distribution of a compilation album featuring gender and HIV/Aids awareness songs and poetry pieces. As the budget does not allow for concerts in all centres around the province, groups from those areas that we cannot reach are invited to submit a demo of a song that they would like to have considered for the compilation album. Preference will be given to groups that have already recorded their songs, due to the limited budget available for recording purposes.

To end off, further concerts will be staged around the province; featuring local acts and acts from the compilation album, where free copies of the album, in the form of cassettes, will be distributed. The project has already been invited to present a three-band showcase and awareness event at the Splashy Fen Music Festival, which takes place from April14 to 17. It is also hoped that tracks from the album will be playlisted by our community radio station partners as well as provincial and national broadcasters.

Demos and completed recordings can be dropped off at BEES’ Durban office post box during business hours. The physical address is Box 30, Business Centre, Davenport Square, 89 Davenport Road, Glenwood, Durban.

Alternatively groups or poets can contact Neil Comfort from Bandwagon Afrika on 083 463 8044 or Malcolm Nhleko from Maltre Productions on 084 455 6608 for more information on sites for the road show or to arrange collection of demos or recorded material.




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