Artscape focuses on aspiring young artists

Sizo Mahlangu performing his live installation.

During Youth Month, next month, the Artscape theatre has put the spotlight on up-and-coming artists, arts education, accessibility and new genres.

“This year, the programmes will touch on youth jazz, classic, hip hop and youth comedy. The next big names must come from our youth, and we want to support them in their careers,” said Marlene le Roux, the Artscape CEO at a media launch earlier this month.

She said that this year, they will bring pantsula to the Artscape for the first time.

“It’s not a new genre, but we are bringing it to the theatre to give it the prominence it needs.”

Enhancing outreach to audiences who do not easily have access to the arts will also be a focal point.

Ms Le Roux said many young people who left school were not immediately employed.

“We then ask ourselves, what are we putting out there for them to grab onto?

“While the Artscape provides a number of programmes, we cannot forget our poor and disadvantaged areas, where schools still don’t have art as a subject. We also don’t have music and drama teachers, so the Artscape is forging relationships with the Western Cape Education Department to make art more accessible.

“What we do at the Artscape cannot be seen in isolation – we need to fill in the gaps. You can’t talk about Youth Month without talking about the systemic challenges we face. Young people can’t say, ‘I want to be a violinist’ when there are no violin lessons available to them.”

Another first for the Artscape is the Youth Comedy Festival, which gives aspiring comedians a platform, and is also where visitors will “have a laugh but also listen to commentary from our youth about social challenges the country faces”, said Ms Le Roux.

The College of Magic will also be part of the programme.

Artscape will run internships that will give young people a chance to learn the ropes from professionals in various departments.

“The Artscape is for arts, but also for dance and for education. We want to show what our youth want to see.”

She said Youth Day, June 16, would be about reinforcing good role models in society.

“We have partnered with Chrysalis Academy, a programme for youth at risk based in Tokai.

“On Youth Day, they will have an exhibition of over a decade of people who have gone through their programme and have added to their success stories.”

She said Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and his wife, Leah Tutu, would take about 250 children to the Artscape during Youth Month to attend a life skills workshop, and then treat them to a viewing of the Youth Comedy Festival.

The lunch-hour concerts will also make a comeback and this time the Artscape is partnering with the Zip Zap Circus.

The Artscape also launched its resource centre recently.

It’s a creative hub where registered visitors have access to the internet, arts administrative training and information, and a meeting room.

Phodiso Matloga, who heads the resource centre, said the space was already buzzing every day.

“We encourage the youth to register and make use of the resource centre. It assists with professional growth as an artist and provides you with all the necessary tools to be able to do your own administration as an artist.

“We want to encourage entrepreneurship among our artists, and for this they must know how to do paperwork professionally.”

Visitors to the launch had a taste of what to expect at the Youth Month celebration, with perfromances by comedian Justin Ray, Amapantsula Dancers from Gugulethu and artist Sizo Mahlangu.

For more information about the Resource Centre, you can email phodisom@artscape.co.za

For the full Youth Month programme, visit artscape.co.za or like the Artscape Theatre Centre on Facebook.