Port Elizabeth – The residents of the Nelson Mandela Bay, welcomed Arts and Culture Minister Mr.Nathi Mthethwa to Nangoza Jebe Community Hall on Thursday, to launch the debut fund programme for young artists. The department of Arts & Culture in partnership with Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), launched the Debut Fund Programme aimed at reinforcing skills development for young artists and assisting them financially to further support their artistic business ventures and talents.

 At the gathering, Minister Nathi Mthethwa addressed the community members of Nelson Mandela Bay on how the Debut Fund Programme seeks to facilitate and educate young up-coming artists within the sector between the ages 18-35. The Minister further expressed that, funding would be beneficial to all young talented people, as they seek to nurture and protect young South African artists in the long-run.

“As government we seek to build artists that are sustainable, professional and assisted within the industry.

“We want to see the future of our youth guaranteed.

“This fund seeks to benefit all those young talented people and ensure that they’re work is durable and doesn’t come and go”, said Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

During his 2017/18 budget vote speech the Minister stated: “Debut Fund Programme creates training, mentoring and funding opportunities for young artists from all disciplines making. In partnership with BASA, it is anticipated that this fund will support young artists from all over the country to take their first steps as professional artists.”

According to Luvuyo Mavuso the Head of Programs and Development of Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), the debut fund will intervene where artists are struggling in terms of their technical business skills and thus will mentor and educate the young business professionals about the industry.

“We will be training the artists around business skills and how to access the grant component of this Debut Fund Programme.”

“In partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture, as Business and Arts South Africa, we are the implementing partner of this initiative and our role is to make sure the project meets its objective, with the specific focus on rural areas”, expressed Luvuyo Mavuso.

As part of the programme, BASA has identified community arts centres supported by DAC within each province and collaborated with them. These centres will serve as programme anchors providing support, assisting with marketing, recruitment channels and serving as a local point of contact between the delegates, BASA and the Department of Arts and Culture.

After the respective speeches from both partners, community members were given the platform to respond to the address by the Minister.

 Many veteran artists complained that they have been excluded from the Debut Fund Programme, simply because they do not comply with the age bracket. The veteran artists further described how the apartheid regime hindered their success as artists and thus the government should not exclude them from their artistic endeavors and instead assist them with funding as well.

Among the veteran artists was Award- winning actress Nomhle Nkonyeni, who also criticized the age bracket saying, she works mostly with youth in her organization and would appreciate funding from the program to empower young actors and actresses.

The Department of Arts and Culture and BASA are launching the implementation phase of the programme in all nine provinces in South Africa from June to August 2017.

Lwando Nomoyi

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