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IMAGINATION LAB (article first published : 2004-10-22)

In January 2003 Vega The Brand Communications School and CAFÉ (Communications and Advertising Forum for Empowerment) launched two Imagination Labs in Westville-Durban and Sandton-Johannesburg. The Imagination Lab creates a playground for South Africa's "square pegs in round holes".

The Imagination Lab, as a joint initiative is playing a crucial role in transforming the creative communication industry in South Africa. All industries are in need of multi-skilled conceptual thinkers, who can solve problems and generate innovative ideas across disciplines; individuals who are equipped with the practical tools to challenge conventional approaches to creativity, business and life in general.

To achieve this aim, the one-year Imagination Lab programme is designed to guide learners through a diversity of creative explorations in order to build their communication, conceptual and research skills, as well as improve their self-esteem, and generate social awareness and cultural sensitivity. It is also a year of finding their creative direction and the opportunities the industry or further studies hold for them.

The focus of the Imagination Lab programme is on personal exploration and creative questing. Learners investigate and document the processes and methodologies of creative individuals in fields such as design, performance, fashion, writing, music, photography, architecture and film-making. Learners are also given the opportunity to apply their skills and talents by interacting with professionals in community projects and 'real-life' campaigns. In March 2004, two more labs were opened: the Ekhaya Imagination Lab in Kwa-Mashu and Kopanosan Imagination Lab in Alexandra. In community labs, this participation and contribution will include projects to retrieve and creatively document community memories that are in danger of being lost.

The Imagination Lab course is a Level 4 Certificate in Creative Processes and is structured in alignment with current educational trends to integrate theoretical training with intensive practical application. With the support of Services SETA and CREATE SA, Imagination Labs are offering talented but disadvantaged students financial assistance in the form of a learnership. As Mohale Ralebitso of CAFÉ and TBWA recognizes, "You can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps.if you have no shoes".

The Westville and Kwamashu Imagination Lab have just opened their 2004 year-end exhibition at artSPACE durban. The showcase promises to be an event exhibiting wisdom with magic, showing the creative processes the learners experienced throughout the year. Work will include multimedia projects, short documentaries in various mediums, print media, photography and lino-prints to name but a few. The exhibition is not just a student showcase, but based on the industry standard required to place the students in the creative and competitive workplace. Imagination Lab offers a one-year apprenticeship programme where students have the opportunity to be placed in the workplace, not only to gain work experience, but to build an industry standard portfolio. The programme goes hand in hand with part time courses to enrich their skills, and to build their branding knowledge.

For more information contact Karen Bradtke at artSPACE durban on 031 312 0793 or Jade at Imagination Lab on 031 266 2595.




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