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For information on donations, please contact Benjy Francis at info@afrikaclturalcentre.com


Feel free to contact us. You can find all our contact details on the CONTACT PAGE

Tel. 011.346 0021
info@afrikaclturalcentre.com
 


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History

Launched in 1980, the Afrika Cultural Centre is an independent, Section 21 not-for-profit educational, cultural and developmental Non Governmental Organisation which was formed to promote, produce, research and develop cultural, artistic, educational and vocational programmes for the encouragement and advancement of community development.

The Afrika Cultural Trust (‘the Trust’), also a non-profit body, was formed in 1989 to develop, manage and maintain the facilities required to fulfil the mission and vision of the Afrika Cultural Centre (‘the Centre’). The Trust was also tasked with fundraising for the Centre’s activities.

The Centre’s educational praxis, EDUCATION THROUGH CULTURE, is based upon empirical experiential and scientific analysis of the cultural process in South Africa as it affected human development during the apartheid years.

In 1991, the Trust was granted a substantial piece of ground – 2.2 hectares – at 52 Goch Street in Newtown, Johannesburg by the City Council. Both the Trust and the Centre now operate from this location on which we have begun building a UNIQUE CULTURAL, EDUCATIONAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL CENTRE. We are the only previously disadvantaged arts and culture organization in the country that is building its own facility.

We are currently facing an eviction order by the property and development agencies of the City, which seek to supplant the project with commercial development. We are challenging this order by legal means. We believe we have a compelling case for the development difficulties we encountered in the Post Apartheid period. We are urgently seeking development partners to achieve our goals.

To date the Trust has been responsible for improvements and building of facilities to the value of over R3 million on the site.

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Vision

The work of the Centre focuses primarily, but not exclusively, on poor and disadvantaged communities. Using an inter-disciplinary or holistic approach, the Centre, through its work seeks to:

• Affirm the process of democracy;
• Enable the quest for excellence and wholesome human development;
• Alleviate the plight of the poor and disadvantaged;
• Reduce the distance between opposites in society, such as race, gender, generational
. and class divides;
• Enhance capacity building and personal empowerment; and
• Consolidate the common cultural bonds of the nation.


The Centre has been acknowledged as a project with national impact by the Department of Arts and Culture. The Centre’s focus and impact is NATIONAL: its projects are being developed as models for replication nationally.


Mission

The Centre’s work ranges from basic exercise in literacy to primary health care, from bread and butter issues to social justice and dignity, and to training artist educators who can take their place in community development, creative problem-solving and people enrichment programmes.

In order to enhance its mission and to achieve its vision, the Centre has focused on the establishment of:

• An international resource centre for the education, cultural and developmental enrichment
. of children and youth, teachers, artists, educators, community facilitators and
. development workers based upon a tradition of multiplier community outreach;

• A decentralised national network of community-driven cultural development centres in
. every zone, township and province of the country for the enrichment and growth of communities;

• Programmes for the creation of employment and economic opportunities through Arts and Culture;

• The encouragement of critical concern for community development issues and processes; and

• The opening up of creative inter-community dialogue and debate.




Achievements

Among the Centre’s achievements have been:

The establishment of the First Children’s Museum in Africa. The museum is set to become an important precedent for the establishment of other similar institutions both nationally and continentally.

Pioneering the movement of Theatre for Development since 1982. It has performed/conducted workshops nationally, and in Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia; participated in regional conferences, festivals and workshops; and attracted visiting artists and students from Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Its staff and students have performed and taken part in workshops in Britain, Netherlands, France and the United States of America.

Hosting the Continent’s first Africanity Awards for the promotion of African Unity through the Arts

The development of a partnership with UNICEF to deal with issues affecting children. Close working links have also been formed with the National Children’s Rights Committee, the NPA, the Children’s Broadcasting Forum and other NGO’s and institutions. Worked with United Nations on the Special Session for Children; and with UNESCO on the intergovernmental conference on Culture and Development.

The establishment of the Citizens of the Earth Award, which recognises the efforts of children and children’s organisations involved in working for a better environment – social, cultural and ecological

Workshops on Conflict Resolution through the Arts in collaboration with the American-based Arts Across Cultures Project. The project is linked to Sweden, Eastern Europe, Palestine/Israel, Russia, South Africa and China.

Creative Educational Enrichment programmes for pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions through satellite campuses in Diepkloof, Westbury and Phola Park.

The Centre hosts The Annual Herbert Dhlomo Memorial Lecture. Herbert Dhlomo was a playwright, essayist and activist editor who has inspired some of the goals of the Centre.

The Centre has established links with several arts and culture institutions in Europe and the United States of America, Mexico, Canada, India and others with a view to drawing on those organisations’ skills base.

Establishment of the country’s first Centre for Creative Child Development, which has held exhibitions and workshops for schools with development themes such as Water Usage, Race and Genetics, Children’s Rights, Nutrition, Sociology of Space, etc.

Establishment of the Centre for Research and Training in African Theatre for the training of actors. It has now developed into an institution called Centre for African Arts to cater for all its educational/training programmes in the arts.


The Centre has run several successful annual Children’s Creativity Pageants/ Carnivals. This is a unique world event and is designed on annual development themes.

E.g. 1994: Freedom and Democracy
1995: People Centred Development
1996: Power of Education
1997: Children’s Rights and Obligations
1998: Human Rights – anti racism/anti sexism
1999: All Africa Carnival – 100 years of African
Development
2000: Freedom Carnival Pretoria
2003: Africa Day Carnival

The Centre has led the Carnival movement in SA and created a special carnival for Nelson Mandela called Carnival Madiba 10 May 1999 jointly with the City of Johannesburg.

16 Days in June – an exploration of children’s activism in development, social consciousness and community development through the Arts.

Engaged in innovative Publications e.g. Fragments in the Sun 1995 – (Noma Award – special mention). Currently developing a book on HIV/AIDS with children.

Developed a Socio-Cultural Intervention Strategy and project model for community development and nation building through the arts and creative therapy.

International leadership exchange of youth in the Arts.

Participated as task team member and facilitator in the Commonwealth Children’s Summit in 1999.

Organised the launch of the Global Movement for Children in May 2000 for UNICEF with Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel.

Led the Consortium on curriculum and teacher development for New Nation School for Children at Risk (street based children)

Conducted many International Performance Tours during and after the Apartheid period e.g. Burning Embers, Mountain of Volcano, When the Locust Comes.

Conceived and produced the UNICEF 50th Anniversary production of a play with 100 children in 1996.

Has played a vanguard role in the Child Friendly Cities Initiative for Greater Johannesburg.

The Democracy Project-We developed the Children’s Parliamentary Movement with a city parliament; provincial parliament 2000 and a National Parliament on HIV/AIDS for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Currently developing a Continental Children’s Parliament on the Day of the African Child (June 16).

Developed a Children’s Media Communications Unit in still and moving images, print, radio, TV and new technologies.

Established the Standing Conference on Creativity in education, culture and development. Currently organising a National Conference on Arts and Culture for children.

Organised conferences with and by children:

• Children and Social Welfare delivery
• Children in the urban landscape
• Annual planning conference

A specialist in Child Rights and Child Participation.

Art to Art International – an International child arts exchange programme

Arts for Life – definitive work in the sector of arts for the disabled/or challenged. With intense work amongst severe, mentally and physically challenged young people.

National Festival of the Arts for Children, a project in the making.

Made by Children – African Children’s Film and Media Festival and Symposium, with international children’s participation.

Engaged in innovative Publications e.g. Fragments in the Sun 1995 – (Noma Award – special mention). Currently developing a book on HIV/AIDS with children.

Art to Art, International
It is an international art programme for children.
It explores creative dialogue in learning about world cultures - human and social
Sciences. We are developing new country partners continuously.


Creative Youth Leadership Exchange
Working with young people on the brink of making creative work choices. It enables them to work in intense creative production and developmental circumstances – national and international dimension. In 1998 we have exchanged 58 persons. Funding for this project is accessed and managed by our international partners. Currently working on a leadership programme, called YOUNG AFRICANS for Africa’s development. It is a skills development, mentoring and community service programme.

Sociology of Space
This is a group design and construction project that re-creates living environments in order to learn about spatial/environmental influences on growth, development and social relations using craft, writing, photography and other skills to decode the world we live in. Children aged between 10 and 12 years are currently re-creating different living environments nationally for an exhibition to critique housing, transport, environment and social service policy.

Young People’s Creativity Workshops
A holistic cross-cultural, cross-generational, inter-disciplinary creative exploration encouraging child/parent, child/educator partnership through creative dialogue. This is a regular Saturday and holiday programme.

Management

The Afrika Cultural Trust is managed by a Board of Trustees. The board was chaired by Dr. Aggrey Klaaste, former Editor-in-Chief of the Sowetan newspaper. Other Board members are:

• Dr Ellen Khuzwayo, Member of Parliament, ANC - deceased
• Mr Hashim Bham, Quantity Surveyor
• Ms Irene Menell
• Justice Dikgang Moseneke, Constitutional Court- resigned
• Mr John Samuel, Ex Deputy DG. Dept. of Education – Former CEO, Mandela Foundation.
• Ms Mary Slack, Anglo American and De Beers Chairman’s Fund
• Mr Benjy Francis, Director, Afrika Cultural Centre

We are currently re constituting the Board.

The Afrika Cultural Centre is managed on a day-to-day basis by Benjy Francis, an internationally respected theatre director, educationist and cultural activist. He was the first Black Resident Director of the Market Theatre in 1976. He left in 1977 to work amongst the poor and disadvantaged. The Centre grew out of this process. His focus has been on the diversification of arts in the service of development especially in the sector of children and young people, the disabled and elderly. He is at the forefront of work for children in Africa serving on continental and sub-regional structures. A specialist in social/cultural interventions, child rights, participation and democratic processes through the arts. He still works as a professional artistic director, an arts educator, administrator and writer.



Core Programs

The Centre is presently engaged in the following core programmes:

The Centre for Creative Child Development
The project concerns range from pre-primary children to secondary level, working with young persons, developing an awareness of self and group, engaging potential through workshops in mask-making, play-making, craft creation and design and how these impact on the social, emotional, intellectual and physical growth of the child.

The First Children’s Museum
Filled with educational games, audio-visual stimuli and hands-on exhibits, the museum is all about art, culture, science and technology and seeks answers to children’s questions on the living world and their environment.

The focus of the project is to develop curiosity and enquiry in the child. Its concentration on whole brain learning methodology and multiple intelligence theory offers a new site for primary learning. A model pre-school, Discovery Centre, which explores these methodologies, was established in 1995 as an important intervention in early childhood development. The pre-school is temporarily closed due to insufficient funds.

The development of the First Children’s Museum in Newtown is critical to a larger plan of sharing expertise/knowledge with provincial partners to develop similar child centred facilities throughout the country.

Training of Artist Educators – Centre for African Arts
The equipping of educators and artists with creative skills for integrated development of community potential – focusing on Arts, Culture and Development.

Community Education and Enrichment

This programme develops values education, e.g. conflict resolution, creative organisation, arts, science education and engages with whole schools at the Centre as well as on the site of the schools e.g. Ikaneng – Diepkloof, Encochoyini Higher Primary School – Phola Park.

Each of these programmes is designed to develop the human resource base and institutional and creative capacities of disadvantaged communities.

An Annual Children’s Creativity Pageant/Carnival
This is designed on yearly developmental themes e.g. Children’s Rights and celebrates creativity. Working largely in schools and communities this is an intense year-long activity of theme workshops, dialogue and creative production. It focuses on children and communities – parents and educators. An off- shoot of this project is a Children’s Creativity Festival. The project is a unique world event and attracts the participation of children nationally, continentally and internationally.


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