South Africa launches project to stimulate arts


26 August 2015

“We believe that our living human treasures, the legends, have a fundamental role to play in assisting aspirant artists to hone their skills,” said Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, speaking at the launch of the Living Legends Legacy Project and Heritage Month in Johannesburg yesterday.

His department has invested R5-million in the project to ensure that there is transference of skills, knowledge and experience to the younger generation, while at the same time creating opportunities for the legends to continue to have a career in the arts.

“We would like to see these legends playing a bigger role in offering master classes and providing mentorship to the youth as part of our incubator programmes,” Mthethwa said.

The overall theme for the project is “Our indigenous knowledge, our heritage: towards the identification, promotion and preservation of South Africa’s living heritage”.

Listen to what the minister has to say:

A jolly good start

Potter and painter Susan Sellschop is one such living legend and is excited. “I think this is an excellent project,” said the 73-year-old. “R5-million is a jolly good start. I think that it is important that the skills of the living legends must not be lost.”

Sylvia Glasser, the founder of dance company Moving Into Dance Mophatong, is positive about the investment for the living legends. “I feel honoured to be at this gathering with the living icons,” she said. “I am deeply moved by it.”

Jazz singer Letta Mbulu said the legends needed to make sure that a collective effort was made to ensure they all left a solid legacy that would be remembered by their children.

Collective initiative

“We want you to develop your own programmes; we do not want our icons to be beggars,” Mthethwa said. The department also encouraged the business sector to contribute towards the project.

“Our ultimate objective is to provide continued support and to increase the Living Legends economic beneficiation prospects.”

His department would ensure that at the beginning of the next financial year, Mthethwa added, the seed fund for the project would be R20-million.

The campaign

Plans for the project include the establishment of ministerial awards to recognise and honour the living legends for their work in various disciplines.

Living Legends benefit concerts will also be held and proceeds will go towards the Living Legends Trust Fund.

Book of Mzansi Legends will be published and documentaries will be made that will trace the artistic journeys of the selected artists.

“It is through the work of these icons that we (were) able to get international organisations, civil society movements and different nations across the globe to pledge solidarity and support the worldwide anti-apartheid movement,” Mthethwa said.