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Take a look at innovative and impactful arts and culture

14 January 2024

In Cape Town, the power of art is harnessed to address key challenges and uplift communities. Through projects such as the Arts Aweh Programme, the Emerging Artists Programme, and the Public Art Programme, the City’s Arts and Culture Branch is nurturing artistic talent, fostering community engagement, and empowering emerging artists, all while enhancing public spaces and celebrating the city’s rich cultural heritage.

Exploring Three of Cape Town’s Innovative and impactful Arts Programmes

Arts Aweh Programme 

The Arts Aweh Programme is an afterschool initiative that focuses on providing constructive, fun and accessible arts and culture activities for children and teenagers.

The project, which currently operates in Pella, Dunoon, Bonteheuwel, Langa, Delft, Heideveld, Athlone, Gugulethu and Mitchells Plain, offers a multipurpose solution by employing creatives to teach and occupy kids after school through art activities in underutilised facilities.

According to the project manager, Nikita Beukes, Arts Aweh aims to keep children safe, engaged and off the streets, while offering opportunities for learning and participation in various arts forms — visual arts, performing arts, dancing, music, writing, drama, and more.

The artists involved in Arts Aweh are employed by the City as part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). The pilot project entails 40 local artists and reaches between 400 and 500 children per day, five days a week. To date, the project has seen immeasurable positive results in the communities it operates in.

The pilot programme is leading up to an open day where participants can showcase their work and performances. Positive results from the pilot will pave the way for the programme’s continuation and expansion.

Emerging Artists Programme 

The Emerging Artists Programme supports under-resourced artists in the early stages of their careers by providing them with training, mentorship, networking opportunities and exhibition platforms.

Recent initiatives include pop-up exhibitions at cultural spaces and events, collaborative partnerships with galleries, masterclasses covering various creative sectors, and an annual capacity-building training programme focused on building sustainable art careers.

Robin Jutzen, manager of the Arts and Culture Branch, emphasised the value of this project for creating networks in which artists uplift one another. The programme includes between 200 and 300 creatives each year, building a resourceful local network of emerging artists from all disciplines.

“Culture is a powerful change agent for cities. It helps create a sense of community, it helps drive the economy, and it helps drive innovation,” Jutzen said.

Jutzen’s team facilitates engagement between their various arts and culture projects. Some of the artists trained in the Emerging Artists Programme, for instance, have proceeded to become mentors in the abovementioned Arts Aweh Programme.

Public Art Programme 

The City’s Public Art Programme includes mural art, urban cultural activations and busking, serving as a catalyst for change within neighbourhoods.

Cape Town’s mural projects not only contribute to tourism and social and economic development, but also embody the city’s vision as a sustainable cultural and creative capital. Noteworthy examples include the Athlone, Gugulethu, Du Noon, Factreton, Manenberg and Ottery mural projects. Each of these projects adds a unique touch to their respective neighbourhoods.

The urban culture activation project aims to create a more welcoming and integrated city. By beautifying public spaces, raising awareness on pressing issues, and uplifting the quality of facilities, this initiative cultivates a diverse and stimulating cultural environment. Through spoken-word rap, hip-hop dancing, skateboarding and visual arts, among other activities, Cape Town invites individuals from all walks of life to showcase their talents.

The busking project adds another layer of artistic expression. By providing opportunities for buskers, street musicians and artists to showcase their talents, this initiative enriches the artistic fabric of the city and creates a dynamic environment where creativity flourishes.

Discover Cape Town Arts and Culture scene

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