There is an abundance of talented young black artists in the townships, but a lack of proper mentoring, guidance and art platforms often hinders them from becoming professional artists, says acclaimed playwright and actor Fatima Dike.
This comes after Ms Dike and four other artists-Dizu Plaatjies, Thulani Nxumalo, Anele Ngoko and Thabisa Dinga -decided to put their skills and knowledge together to form the Zavela Performing Arts and co-op.
The fundamental aim of the organisation was to unearth fresh and raw talent and to equip budding artists with various arts skills.
The organisation hopes to offer a six-month training course which will focus on acting, script-writing, documentary, dance, drama and photography at Guga S’thebe Arts and Culture Centre in Langa.
Ms Dike said the artists involved felt that they needed to share the wealth of knowledge and skills they had acquired over the years and plough this back to the community.
She said they would be opening their doors at the beginning of February for auditions for those who would like to enroll for the course and if things go well, the organisation would hire other teachers to render their skills. She said they wanted to use art as a tool to educate the young people about the importance of making wise life choice while making a meaningful contribution to the development of township art.
Ms Dike said that the harsh reality was that there were dozens of young people who were talented but there were limited or no art platforms at all to showcase their gift.
Ms Dike said it was important that they offered their talents and skills to help artists in the community to upgrade their skills to a professional level.
She said they were looking for pupils in grades 10 to 12 but they were also looking for those who had dropped out of school.
Ms Dike said that during the apartheid era it had been difficult for black students to enrol at the University of Cape Town (UCT) drama school to pursue careers as artists. She added that it was during that time that she made a pact with herself to plough back into the community to create opportunities for other young artists.
She said they wanted to change the thinking that art was a only “for white people” and wanted young black artists to believe in themselves and that they could make it in the art industry.
She said they wanted to see more young black artists enrolling to study drama and becoming professionals in the arts industry.
“We are embarking on this journey of empowering budding artists because we believe that for years they had been deprived opportunities in the art industry.
“We want to rewrite the mistakes of the past and give this current generation the opportunities that we never had.
“We want to make art fashionable and we want to unlock many doors of opportunities for these gifted young black artists.
“We want them to tell their stories from their perspective. But most importantly we want black children to have equal opportunities,” she said. Ms Dike highlighted that funding remained a major obstacle and that they were still looking for funders who would be able to help cover the operational costs of the initiative.
She said there were many stories which had not been told and through the organisation they wanted those stories to be given life. For more details, contact Fatima Dike at 076 449 9296.