The National Arts Council of South Africa awards R23 million in arts grants

Napo Masheane

Napo Masheane is among those who have benefited from the help of the National Arts Council. Read her story below.

The National Arts Council (NAC) of South Africa has awarded R23 million in grants to 116 organisations countrywide – an increase from the last funding cycle where 98 organisations received three year funding.

The beneficiaries, 108 of which work with the youth and 50 of which work with women, will receive funding for the next three years in various arts disciplines.

The provincial allocation followed the usual trend with Gauteng leading in the number of funded projects (39), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (17), Limpopo (15) and the Western Cape (14). The Freestate and Mpumalanga both had nine funded projects; the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape each had five; and the North West had three.

Another 36 multi-discipline organisations received grants, 23 in the music field and 18 in dance. Ten theatre organisations were awarded funding; with craft receiving 12, visual arts seven and literature 10.

NAC Company_Funding_InfographicA call for proposals for the three year funding cycle for arts organisation support opened in November last year with the arts community required to submit business plans outlining their artistic programmes and budgets for a three year period from 2016 to 2018.

This was the fifth time the NAC has requested funding proposals for this funding category. Nearly 500 applications had been received when submissions closed at the end of January.

The adjudication panel consisted of Jayesperi Moopen (AOSF chairperson and multi-discipline chairperson), Kim Mathews (music chairperson), Erika Elk (craft chairperson), Georgina Thomson (dance chairperson), Nakedi Ribane (theatre chairperson), Nontobeko Ntombela (visual arts chairperson) and David Maahlamela (literature chairperson). Further assistance was enlisted from other members of advisory including Nthabiseng Makhene (craft discipline), Londiwe Langa (multi-discipline) and Wandile Mgcodo (theatre discipline).

Rosemary Mangope, chief executive officer of the NAC said: “As we celebrate the central role played by South African women in August, the NAC’s focus on empowering and upskilling women across all arts fields continues.

“Central to our mandate is the importance of facilitating strong leadership roles for women of all ages within the creative industries, where their voices continue to be under-represented.

“We are proud of the progress we have made in this important sector to date and the NAC will continue to work towards empowering the current and next generation of women during Women’s Month and throughout the year, not just in SA but on the African continent and worldwide.”



NAPO MASHEANE shares her story of benefiting from the work of the National Arts Council.

“It’s not often that we as artists take a moment to thank the people who work hard behind the scenes to make it possible for us to grow and hone our craft. It is for this reason I’m sharing this story with you, to show my gratitude to those who have helped me towards realising a dream I had previously thought was unattainable.

“As a young girl growing up in rural Free State, I heard the many voices and stories of ordinary people – their pain; their joy; what excited them and what made them wake up every morning to live and contribute to the rich tapestry of storytelling in our beautiful country. It became my dream, from a very young age, to capture these stories in poetry, prose and performance so they will live on through time to be shared and enjoyed by many generations to come.

“As an African storyteller, I believe it is my duty to pay tribute to my ancestors, elders and those who are kind to me by fully utilising the resources they have made available in my endeavours to articulate and represent mine and their heritage.

“The National Arts Council (NAC) has greatly empowered me in this regard, granting funding for me to fulfil this duty and, in turn, its mandate of developing all stakeholders in the arts, culture and heritage sector to promote transformation and redress, and much-needed social cohesion.

“Over the years, the NAC has supported me through my studies in drama at Fuba School of Dramatic Arts (1999 – 2000); my internationally renowned one-woman play, My Bum Is Genetic, Deal With It (2007), which remains one of the major highlights of my life; and in 2014/15, almost 17 years since my first grant, the NAC became my financial rock in pursuing my Master of Arts in creative writing (poetry and drama) at Rhodes University, making me one of the few black African women to complete two dissertations in those fields.

“For this, I would like to thank everyone at the NAC and express my warmest and most sincere gratitude for their hard work and dedication, particularly Mr Andrew Nkadimeng, the NAC’s Arts Development Officer for literature. It’s such work that makes it possible for people like myself and many others to live our dreams and reach new heights as artists.

“When I received the letter from the head of the Institute for the Study of English in Africa at Rhodes, Dr Stephen Fourie, confirming that I had been awarded my master’s, I recalled the number of occasions the NAC made it possible for me to pursue my passion and realise my dreams.

“May this kind of support continue to reach other South African artists. May we also know that the seed you plant should grow and spread to other, less privileged artists with limited access to resources. I am indeed looking forward to many more years of creativity and the empowerment of black women in South African theatre and arts.

“Thank you, NAC … Pele e ya Pele.”

For more information about the National Arts Council go to


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