National Winners in Arts Competition for Senior Secondary Schools

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14 Nov 2009

Executive Mayor
CEO of Shoprite/ Checkers
Media houses represented here today
Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening

It is with great honour to be invited to address this important event combing old and young people, especially youth in schools as it certainly proves that arts, is indeed for all. I am indeed happy to witness that the project that was championed and launched by my predecessor, Ms Ntombazana Botha on the 2nd of April 2009 is being successfully implemented, hence this gathering of today. Let me also thank Mr Radi Van Zyl, Ms Sonja Muller for the hardwork and commitment in the mounting of exhibitions within the respective provinces over the past three weeks.
About two month’s ago, we celebrated our Heritage Day under the theme "Celebrating South African Craft, Our Heritage" in Limpopo. It was during this event that our Deputy President, Mr Kgalema Montlanthe said “Crafts speak a universal language and are appreciated across class, gender, race, and all other social barriers that keep us apart”. This then proves that this can serve as a catalyst for social cohesion and nation building. He further continued to caution the nation that as citizens “We should therefore be mindful of and appreciate these powers of crafts to transcend artificial barriers and contribute towards the building of a truly united society”.

This reality challenges all of us into ensuring that we support the creative industries and ensure that all cultural practitioners benefit. We are however aware of the challenges of marketing and skills shortages especially in developing arts and cultural practitioners into small, micro and medium enterprises (SMME’s).

We have to ensure that value of arts and craft goes beyond décor into an investment option of high potential for people to consider. The importance of partnerships in the realization of this change of mindset cannot be under-estimated especially given the high job creation potential of this sector.

My department through the Investing in Culture programme intends to support projects that will subsequently be sustainable beyond departmental funding. These projects will further contribute to local economic development through job creation in areas where people live, especially the poor and the unemployed. However, more work still needs to be done in ensuring that this programme works and compliments the provincial and local spheres of government.

Further, during the launch of this partnership, a possibility of a partnership between my department and Old Mutual Foundation was announced. I am pleased to attest that the two parties signed the Memorandum of Agreement in Polokwane on the eve of the national Heritage Day. DAC-Old Mutual Legends project as it called, seeks to transform local craft initiatives into viable businesses.

The marketing partnership my department also entered into with Shoprite Checkers (Strokes of genius) fits in squarely within this framework. Working together with partners in the first economy will assist my department in narrowing the existing gap with the second economy, where most of the supported projects operate.

Today, is also about recognizing the interest and contribution of the youth, especially the school going ages in the arts. Such a potential sometimes never gets to be realized. This initiative will also be one of the joint projects with our sister Department of Basic Education and provincial aligned departments.

I am happy to announce that on its first year of existence, the Arts Competition has managed to draw three hundred and ninety four (394) entries from all provinces. Eighty(80) of those received preliminary sketches have already received arts kits to provide the common basis for the evaluation of the winning works irrespective of being private or public.

The outcome of provincial selection events was twelve (12) finalists from which the best three (3) have been selected. I am honoured to award them and hope this partnership project will reach out to more schools. The effort of promoting arts in the schools through rewarding the schools with cash and art equipment towards the expansion of the art programmes is recognized and highly appreciated.

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the winners and indeed through this partnership a seed is being planted and nurtured to empower upcoming visual artists. Lastly I want to wish you good luck for your exams.
I thank you.