New project gives artists work support

One of the participants part of the programme, singer and magazine CEO, Robin-Lee Johnson, 28, from Beacon Valley, said this programme came to her at the right time.

A new employment project has helped Mitchell’s Plain art organisations and their aspiring artists through creative inspiration.

One of the participants of the Craft and Design Institute’s (CDI) six month-long Creative Community Connectors project, singer and magazine CEO, Robin-Lee Johnson, 28, from Beacon Valley, said this programme came to her at the right time.

“It’s not about what I’ve learnt but the whole experience for me was a self-development journey. Growing in and out of things not only at the Blaqpearl Foundation but also personally,” she said.

“Being part of this program wasn’t normal for me as this opportunity came to me when I was in a very broken state and needed some sort of sign from God that he’s not done with me yet, and it was clear that this was it,” she said.

Having so many inspirational people around her at this project allowed her to bloom, said Robin-Lee.

“The best gift I feel I can give my community, friends and family – is by being the best version of me that they can be proud of. I work hard so some little girl can say ‘because of her, I didn’t give up.’ I’ve learnt that it doesn’t matter what we experience, each one of us is someone else’s inspiration to not quit on themselves, and even if no one watches me, I want to be my own inspiration,” she said.

Multi-instrumentalist and film student, Jared Langley, 21, from Strandfontein, said that this programme has taught him so much about his art through other people’s stories.

Jared Langley from the Mitchell’s Plain Music Academy said he has learned so much that he can now take with him into pursuing his dreams.

The Mitchell’s Plain Music Academy student said the most important thing they’ve learned is collaboration.

“This is key in this industry and space. Each one of us has resources that’s important to one another. We wrote songs in the form of a mind map as a team. We needed to also conduct interviews with local artists. This has even helped me with interviewing people and how to speak to them,” he said

The film student said he is grateful he got to be a part of this programme.

The organisations who took part were S.M-ART from Rocklands, Blaqpearl Foundation from Portland and Mitchell’s Plain Music Academy from Woodlands.

for the duration of six months, created employment opportunities for 1 100 Cape Town creatives – contributing to the Covid-19 recovery and to community-building through work for the common good, said Jacqueline Dyson, the CDI’s project manager.

The CDI was selected as an implementation partner for South Africa’s Social Employment Fund (SEF), launched in October 2021 under the Presidential Employment Stimulus.

In Cape Town, the CDI is working with CBOs in Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain, Delft, Athlone, Langa and Gugulethu as well as in the communities of Stellenbosch and Malmesbury, she said.

Participants in the project included creatives from performing arts, dance, music, written and spoken word, to visual art, craft and design including photography and sculpture, tagging, architecture, and public art.

The project enables the artists to provide for their own and their family’s basic needs, while creating the emotional and creative space for the investment of time and imagination in collaboration, culture and creation activities – that in turn will lead to new creative works to generate future income, said Ms Dyson.

Erica Elk, CDI Group CEO, said: “It is our communities that nurture and give shape to our artists and creatives – and when this happens, our artists give back a thousand fold,” she said.

Janine Overmeyer, executive director of the Blaqpearl Foundation, said the impact of the project on her foundation is bigger than the income opportunity for artists.”

“Where in the world, wherever in history, have you seen a group of over 70 artists from different disciplines, sitting together with one thing in common and being able to connect and share. It’s a big impact. Bigger than the money. It’s part of healing our society. Once the artists are okay, our society can be better,” she said.

Zeenat Isaacs, co-founder and manager of S.M-ART, said, “It has been going great and participants have learnt a lot on the programme, and connected in their communities. They have formed extra groups that do live events, with more artists that were previously hidden, and that is amazing in itself. This project has caused upliftment within themselves; positivity for them. They come here and a difference is made.”

Bahia Classen, a participant of S.M-ART, highlighted that her experience of collaborating with local artists helped her see her own value as a creative artist.

Bahia Classen from Rocklands was a participant from S.M-ART who was part of the project.

Adnaan Kouta, of S.M-ART said: “I had low self-esteem when I came here, but now I’m a different person. Mentally I’m in a positive state. I can support my children today because I have something to give to them and I’m actually working.”

Roshelle Minaar of S.M-ART said: “It has taken those that are in the development stage of their art and has given them a chance for exposure, given them a chance to be motivated, to be empowered, to be uplifted.”

Shakeel Johaar was part of the programme for artists in March.

The Blaqpearl Foundation participant Isa Parker Michaels, said: “We’ve started something, something small, but we have planted that seed. I’m privileged to have been part of this project that planted that seed.”

Loyiso Damoyi, the managing director of Africa Jam, said: “The programme has made my vision come true, to see black artists coming in numbers to the centre from all walks of life. And the creative mapping in our community; it’s doing a lot of healing in a way – just to be heard, for people to be seen, to take an interest in them.”