Johannesburg’s iconic Market Theatre was abuzz both on and off the stage when performing arts matriculants were granted scholarships to pursue their dreams at tertiary level.
Six triple-threat scholars acted, danced and sang their way through the finals and all walked away with funding from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), supported by the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Organisation (DALRO) and the Nedbank Arts Affinity.
After a demanding week of rehearsals at the hands of a talented creative team and a tough final round in front of a live audience, Virtuous Kandemiiri from Gauteng was awarded the first prize scholarship of R105,000, while Tamzin Williams of the Western Cape won a scholarship worth R54,000, and Robin Castle from the Eastern Cape walked away with R40,000.
The runners-up, Thandaza Silwane (KwaZulu-Natal), Sibusiso Nhlapo (Gauteng) and Jeani Heyns (Western Cape) also received funding to help kick-start their tertiary education.
“While this was a massive highlight and a wonderful end to a long process, it is merely the beginning,” says ACT CEO, Pieter Jacobs. “The real work starts now and the Arts & Culture Trust looks forward to supporting and mentoring these exceptional young performers while they prepare to enter the industry.”
Now in its eighth year, the ACT scholarship programme searched the country for the six candidates, who set the stage alight last night.
Once selected, each of the matric pupils were coached by a dedicated team of professionals, before putting their best foot forward in front of an illustrious panel of judges, and a live audience.
The judges were Talent-ETC director and award-winning producer, Jennis Williamson; multiple award-winning local and international star of the stage and screen, Terence Bridgett; actress, singer and cabaret artist, Kate Normington; South African Music Award-winning vocalist, producer and composer, Gloria Bosman; and creative catalyst and consultant, Brenda Sakellarides.
Thabang Mampane, Commissioner of the National Lotteries Commission said they were honoured to assist the young artists reach their full potential. “Grants of this nature are in line with government’s commitment to provide opportunities for the youth of South Africa,” she added.
Tiro Seleke, the manager of business development at DALRO , said the organisation was incredibly proud to be associated with the scholarship programme, adding: “Nurturing of young talent is a reinvestment into the survival of the industry. These amazing talents need all our support to reach their full potential.”
These sentiments are echoed by Nedbank. “As a bank for all, we remain committed to enabling the dreams and goals of young people and are inspired by the great talent the scholarships programme continues to unearth,” said Tobie Badenhorst, head: sponsorships and cause marketing. “On behalf of Nedbank we would like to congratulate the young artistic minds and wish them all the best as they embark on their new exciting journey.”
The show was hosted by Lindelwa Nkosi, who clinched the coveted role of emcee after auditioning for ACT as part of their country-wide talent search.
A classically trained musician and presenter, Nkosi, who hails from KwaZulu-Natal guided the evening with flair and professionalism, a performance that also marks her as a personality to watch out for.