The Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) has completed the final leg of their Scholarships Programme auditions. And, the Witbank, Polokwane, Pretoria and Johannesburg-based hopefuls who auditioned have ensured that selecting the finalists for the Programme won’t be an easy task.
Since 2009, ACT has been supporting arts students through this Programme. The only difference this year is that there are more Scholarships on offer to Grade 12 scholars and first and second year university students than ever before.
Supported by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Organisation (DALRO) and the Nedbank Arts Affinity, the 2016 Scholarships Programme will change the lives of dramatic arts, singing, dance and musical theatre scholars and students with scholarships to the value of R800 000. This funding will be split; with R279 000 going towards the winning Grade 12 participants, and the balance being awarded to first and second year performing arts students.
This final round of auditions kicked off in Witbank. “It is with much thanks and appreciation to the Kwaguqa Arts Initiative that ACT CEO Pieter Jacobs and I hosted the auditions on the cold and windy morning of 22 July at the Witbank Civic Theatre,” says Programmes Coordinator, Rahiem Whisgary. “The theatre, with its wooden wall panelling and dark carpeted floors, is reminiscent of the seventies, and looked as though it must have been the place to be in its day. It felt a treat to conduct the regional auditions for the ACT Scholarships Programme in this five hundred-seat theatre, complete with proscenium stage and orchestra pit.”
Whisgary continues; “We were greeted by eager participants and their parents, raring to get the auditions underway. The group we saw was small, comprising four Grade 12 performers, but we were delighted to see that the participants were so well prepared!”
From Witbank, Jacobs and Whisgary made their way to Polokwane where they hosted auditions at the Mitchell House school.
“This is the second year the regional auditions have come to Polokwane, and as one of last year’s finalists hailed from the province, we were excited to see what Polokwane had to offer this year. It didn’t disappoint,” says Whisgary.
“In Pretoria, the warm welcome and preparation from Oakfields College made us feel very welcome and proud to host the auditions there. What a friendly team of people!” Whisgary recalls. “We auditioned a very strong group of Grade 12 students in Pretoria, but the highlight was seeing the standard the first and second year musical theatre performers had to offer.”
Whisgary explains that they had to mentally prepare themselves for the Johannesburg auditions; “despite the huge number of people that register to audition in Johannesburg each year, we haven’t had a finalist from the region in a couple of years.” But, he says, this year was a pleasant surprise, and that all the participants that auditioned at Moving Into Dance Mophatong really “brought it”. “We definitely have quite a number of Grade 12, first year and second year performers from Johannesburg to consider for the finalists’ positions,” he shares.
Whisgary says that the Johannesburg leg also saw many hopefuls return to the Scholarship Programme auditions for a second or even third time. He says it was exceptionally encouraging to see how these familiar faces have grown and developed over the years.
With all the national auditions in the bag, now comes the gruelling task of sifting through and selecting the finalists for the ultimate event. Whisgary says this will not be an easy task, as this year they were truly blown away by the calibre of young performing artists from around the country.
The finalists in each category will be announced in the coming weeks and the winners of the various Scholarships will be announced in October.
For more information, please visit http://www.act.org.za/programmes/scholarships.html.