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STAND Projects

Poetry for Human Rights Project

Selected poems from the Poetry for Human Rights Project. Click a button on the right to view.

Research into the impact of COVID-19 on theatre in South Africa

STAND Foundation undertook research to ascertain the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns on those who make their livelihoods within theatre as well as on theatre audiences.  The research is informative and has been interpreted in an article by STAND’s coordinator, Mike van Graan, published in Herri 5.  The article is available at the following link, and the research is summarized in a document on the Resources link on this website.

https://herri.org.za/5/mike-van-graan/

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Jozi Comedy and Satire Festival

STAND Foundation hosted a Comedy and Satire Festival over the weekend of 25-27 June in Johannesburg as part of Youth Month.  With sponsorship from the Johannesburg City, the weekend comprised workshops for young stand-up comics as well as opportunities to perform at the TX Theatre, Tin Town Theatre and the National School of the Arts.  The project was coordinated by a three-person team comprising participants in STAND’s leadership course: Lesego van Niekerk, Lungile Themba and Sophie Joans.  They did an outstanding job!

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WEBINAR on a future vision for dance and theatre

STAND Foundation hosted a series of online webinars on cultural policy, particularly as it relates to the South African theatre and dance sector, from 24 May to 28 June.

The aims of the campus were:

  1. To inform those in the South African arts sector generally, and those who make their livelihoods in dance and theatre in particular, about cultural policies and related protocols that affect their lives so that they may make informed decisions when engaging with such policies.
  2. To provide forums and opportunities for critical reflection on contemporary cultural policies as these relate to the theatre and dance sectors.
  3. To highlight advocacy and change-making strategies and encourage creative thinking about advocacy in the South African context.
  4. To build a network of those interested in cultural policy and/or advocacy for sustained learning, critical reflection and engagement around policies and strategies that directly affect the dance and theatre sector.
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The topics were as follows:
The Revised White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage
The history, process and dance and theatre content of the 1996 White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage
The history, process and dance and theatre content of the 2017 Revised White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage 
The status of the Revised White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage, key differences between the 1996 and 2017 versions and opportunities for strategic engagement

An introduction to the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture
The history, role and mandate of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC)

Key players within the DSAC
The DSAC Annual Performance Plan
The budget and expenditure of the DSAC 2021-2023
Accountability of and engagement with the DSAC

Cultural Laws impacting on arts and culture and on dance and theatre in particular
The Cultural Institutions Act and Cultural Laws Amendment Act

The National Arts Council Act
The Public Finance Management Act

The Constitution and how it impacts on national, provincial and local government responsibilities with regard to arts and culture
What the Constitution says about arts and culture

Provincial examples of cultural policy and practice: Gauteng and Western Cape
City examples of cultural policy and practice: Cape Town and Johannesburg
Government departments – beyond the DSAC – that have an arts and culture mandate

Artists’ rights, remuneration and status in South Africa today
1. The current status of artists in terms of the law
2. Remuneration and social benefits for the dance and theatre sector
3. Towards a Charter of Rights for South African artists

Towards a new vision, policies and funding strategies for the dance and theatre sector
1. Building a national circuit of performing arts venues
2. Funding companies, not infrastructure
3. Developing human resources

The slides for Sessions 1, 2 and 6 are available in the Resources section of this website.

Research into performance spaces

One of the primary challenges within the dance and theatre sector is the lack of space for companies to rehearse their work and then to tour their work to audiences around the country.  STAND commissioned research that would deliver detailed information about at least 100 performing arts spaces nationally, with at least five such spaces in each province.

This research was done by Creative Fix and is available under the Resources button on STAND’s websites.  It will be a while before theatres are opened fully to audiences, but this research will go some way in helping independent producers to plan national tours of their work, so building markets and earning income for as long as their creative works have a life.

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Launch of Theatre and Dance Alliance (TADA)

In late January this year and with the dance and theatre sector on its knees after a year of cancelled festivals, shut theatres and audience-limiting curfews, the minister responsible for arts and culture, Nathi Mthethwa, tweeted that ‘theatre is alive and well’.  This led to outrage in the sector that saw a petition calling for the minister to resign or be fired garnering a few thousand signatures in a relatively short period.  The minister apologized for his ‘insensitive tweet’, but the incident highlighted the need for a representative body for the dance and theatre sector that would defend and advocate for its rights and interest on an ongoing basis.

In September last year, STAND Foundation issued a Discussion Document outlining a vision for the dance and theatre sector and called for the establishment of a representative structure that would advocate for the policies and strategies embedded in the document.  In the light of the momentum for something to emerge within the sector, STAND took the initiative to launch the Theatre and Dance Alliance (TADA) and helped to drive a six-week process in which more than 300 members signed up, a Constitution was adopted, a National Steering Committee was put in place by the members and a fresh secretariat was appointed.  While STAND is a private foundation with a board but no members and so cannot speak on behalf of the sector, TADA is an umbrella body comprising some of the leading practitioners, companies and membership-based organisations in the sector.

STAND will seek to build a sound partnership with TADA to serve the sector as effectively as they can.

For more information about TADA, see its Facebook group TADA – Theatre and Dance Alliance | Facebook

Poetry for Human Rights

South Africa’s Human Rights Day and International Poetry Day coincide on 21 March.  It made sense then to do a project that combined poetry with human rights.  With the support of the Foundation for Human Rights, STAND hosted a Poetry for Human Rights event with the Centre for Creative Arts in Durban as part of their Time of the Writer Festival.

Poets were invited to submit work interrogating or celebrating human rights in contemporary South Africa.  From the more than 450 poems, the co-curators – Malika Ndlovu and Siphokazi Jonas – selected 45 poems for a potential publication and of these, they selected six poets to perform at an online event on Sunday 21 March.  Many of the powerful poems addressed the theme of gender-based violence which is a particular scourge and violation of human rights, particularly those of women, at this time in our country.

STAND Foundation and the Centre for Creative Arts are now in discussion with the European National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC) about a similar project for 2022 and that would include poets addressing human rights in Europe.

Illustrative picture and caption: Malika Ndlovu was one of the curators for the project.

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STAND Summer School

COVID-19 restrictions have limited the capacity of creatives and practitioners to be on stage, but they have also allowed for reflection and upskilling.  To this end, STAND Foundation hosted a summer school with sixteen short courses that took place mostly online so that people from around the country could participate.  Data was provided for those who required it.   Courses included topics that covered the funding landscape, intellectual property and ownership, entrepreneurship in dance and theatre, basic entertainment law, independent production and practical courses such as making movement theatre and Empatheatre, the latter being a format of theatre that assists communities in understanding and articulating their concerns.

This project was also sponsored by the Netherlands Embassy and not only offered participants opportunities to learn new skills, it also facilitated networking across the country.

Illustrative Picture and Caption: Koleka Putuma co-facilitated a course on intellectual property rights as part of the Summer School

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STAND - Projects & Events

STAND-to-Reason Dialogues

STAND Foundation, in association with the Toyota US Woordfees, hosted a weekend of panel discussions in Stellenbosch from 19-21 February aimed largely at the dance and theatre sector.  A wide range of panelists participated in the eleven panels whose topics ranged from ‘Are we producing too many dancers and actors for the South African market?’ and ‘Decolonising theatre: does this even mean anything?’ to ‘What teaching drama has taught us as teachers’ and ‘Why we support South African theatre and dance’ with representatives from the French Institute and Swedish and Netherlands embassies taking part in the latter.

It was a stimulating event with people in the theatre and dance ecosystem gathering physically for the first time in more than a year, and the conversations were insightful and intense, taking place in a beautifully renovated building amidst strict COVID-19 protocols.

This Dialogue series was sponsored by the Netherlands Embassy that also sponsored STAND’s Women Stand-Up Comedy project and so there was great synergy in hosting five of the seven women stand-up comics on the Saturday night to much acclaim.

Illustrative picture and caption: Panel discussion at the STAND-TO-REASON dialogues

WEBINAR on a future vision for dance and theatre

In September 2020, STAND issued a Discussion Document on a possible vision for the dance and theatre sector in South Africa.  This year, it will host a series of fortnightly webinars to interrogate the themes and proposals made in the Document, with a view to building sufficient consensus within the sector around key ideas, and as a basis for policy advocacy.

The first webinar was held on Wednesday 3 February on the theme Theatre Infrastructure or Theatre and Dance Companies: How should the available national public funding for theatre and dance be prioritized?  The panelists were Nwabisa Plaatjie, Director of the Masambe Theatre at the Baxter Theatre Complex, Cape Town; Mxolisi Masilela, Founder and Director of the TX Theatre, Tembisa and Deputy Chairperson of the Community Arts Practitioners Network; Cornelia Faasen, Director of the National Theatre Initiative, Stellenbosch and Jade Bowers, Theatre-maker (writer, director) and Production Manager.

Before their budgets were cut to make funding available for artists’ relief, five theatres were allocated R281m plus R53m in capital expenditure in public funding for this financial year.  The State Theatre, ARTSCAPE, the Playhouse Company and PACOFS – all theatre infrastructure inherited from the apartheid era – together with the Market Theatre would receive a total of R334 million in 2020/21.

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The following questions were debated:
We need infrastructure to create and distribute theatre and dance, but is this really the best infrastructure for our country’s needs?  Do we need buildings that are so expensive to maintain and operate?  To make theatre and dance more accessible around the country, would it not be better to support full-time theatre and dance companies in each of the nine provinces?  And what about theatre infrastructure in the country’s less-resourced provinces, or the less-resourced areas of the main urban centres?  After twenty-six years since the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, why are the major cities still the primary beneficiaries of national funding for theatres?

The discussion raised many important points, including the need to recruit and train competent managers for a national theatre circuit given our experience of publicly-funded performance spaces which are poorly managed; the adverse impact of the Public Finances Management Act on the management of theatres as it severely restricts flexibility; the exorbitant salaries paid to senior managements of public theatres which were not consistent with the rates paid within the dance and theatre sector, and the lack of understanding about policy and funding within the sector so that they were largely disempowered.

The full Discussion Document and a summary are available on www.standfoundation.org.za under Resources.

Illustrative picture and caption: Jade Bowers was one of the panelists in the webinar.

YOUNG Leaders Initiative launched

Forty participants attended the inaugural webinar of STAND Foundation’s Leadership Initiative on Thursday 28 January.  The aim of the year-long project is to cultivate a younger tier of leadership for South Africa’s dance and theatre ecosystem through regular webinars, mentorships, networking and various opportunities.

Former Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron delivered an inspiring address to the attendees, encouraging them to think of and practice ethical leadership as a commitment to ideals beyond their own interests and egos.

More than thirty experienced people within the dance and theatre sector – including Mandla Mbothwe, Sylvaine Strike, Phyllis Klotz, David April and Andrew Buckland – have availed themselves as one-on-one mentors to participants in the programme.

Illustrative picture: Judge Edwin Cameron gave an opening address at the launch of the leadership course.

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TAKING A STAND Theatre and Dance Vision Project

Concept: STAND Foundation will devise a comprehensive Vision for contemporary South African Theatre and Dance with concrete ideas as a basis for advocacy and inclusion in government policy and strategy, but also to guide the work of STAND itself as well as stakeholders in the sector.

Status: Draft Discussion Document has been created and is being circulated for endorsements.  See “Resources” to access the document.

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STAND UP for WOMEN Comedy Project

Concept: In the context of GBV, the call is made for new women stand-up comedians i.e. those who have not yet been on public platforms and/or who have not yet earned income as stand-up comedians.  The project is open to women aged 18-45.  They will be required to submit a script of three-pages of their own writing, and a three-minute video of them performing some of the script to a mobile phone camera.  Seven will be selected from the entries received, each to work with a mentor over 4 weeks, honing a 12-15 minute stand-up comedy segment.  At the end of the mentoring process, at least five of the seven will be selected for an online STAND show and/or for tours of festivals/theatres/venues.  In the absence of venues being open, the comediennes will perform online, with tickets sold.

Status: Call for applications to be launched on 1 September 2020

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STAND OUT Bafana Republic and Other Satires

Concept: Two competitions to market Bafana Republic and Other Satires published by Wits University Press, one aimed at professional actors aged 18-40, and the other aimed at high school learners.  Interested actors are invited to select a sketch from the publication and to rehearse and perform it to a mobile phone camera, post it on their own Facebook page, as well as to a page for the purpose of the competition.  A panel of judges selects the ten best-performed/interpreted sketches, and these are presented to the public for judging.  The judges make a selection of the top three, and the audience votes for their top three.

The winning sketches win prizes (three selected by judges and one audience winner) are used to market the book.

Teachers who teach drama are encouraged to purchase the book and to invite their learners to select and perform one of the sketches.  They upload it on their respective pages, and to the competition page.  A panel of judges comprising teachers selects the ten best sketches, and then the top three.  The public is invited to make a selection too.

The winning sketches win prizes (3 selected by judges and one by the audience) and are used further to market the book.

Status: MVG Productions and Lunchbox Theatre are in the process of launching this project.

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STAND BY Mental Wellness Project

Concept: STAND to forge partnerships with various mental wellness and coaching institutions and individuals to provide mental and emotional well-being services to those working in the dance and theatre sectors.  This information is to be posted on our website, and to be part of regular newsletters distributed to our dance and theatre database.  Relationships are to be formed with coaches able to provide services nationally, and a mental wellness project/agency in Gauteng and a mental agency in the Western Cape, both of which may be able to offer services nationally.  STAND will subsidise the costs of such services up to a certain number of hours.

Support groups: Drama/dance therapy trained individuals running support groups for 4-6 people, with such groups meeting on a fortnightly basis.  STAND to facilitate such groups.

Status: In the process of being set up.

STANDING WITH OUR ELDERS

Concept: This project aims to provide regular – at least weekly – check-ins for retired dance and theatre people through online Zoom sessions.  Essentially, the project is to pay for three service providers in the North (Gauteng, North West and Limpopo), East (KZN, Mpumalanga and Free State) and South (W. Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape) to have Zoom to be able to organise and host such networking/check in/support sessions.

Status: In discussion with potential partners.

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01

COVID-19 and its impact on theatre and dance: Lessons and insights from around the globe

This session will deal not only with the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic on theatre and dance, but also its aesthetic consequences.  We are brought up to believe the uniqueness of theatre and dance lies in the live, real-time encounter between the performers and the audience.  With theatre and dance not having live, real-time audiences, what has been the impact on theatre and dance aesthetics that could have lasting consequences?

One night STAND

Webinars

02

Making new arguments for theatre and dance in our contemporary world

Other than a few notable exceptions, the arts are generally marginalised in most societies; when faced with a pandemic, it is even more so the case as they are regarded as a luxury in the light of more urgent needs.  In recent times, the case for the arts has been made mainly in economic terms – the policy emphasis on the creative and cultural industries is about the arts making a contribution to the GDP and to job creation, but has the pandemic and other contemporary issues e.g. the global anti-racist movement, created an environment in which the arts – and theatre and dance in particular – require different arguments for their contemporary relevance and importance?

03

Are festivals still necessary and relevant in today’s world?

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the cancellation of many festivals around the world.  In their place, theatre and dance – and even festivals - have taken to the digital world.  Are festivals as we knew them still relevant?  What are the major challenges to festivals in our contemporary world?  How should festivals shift to remain relevant to the issues that confront us, and will confront us, in the future?

04

International cultural relations, cultural diplomacy and the role of theatre and dance in contemporary conditions.

International cultural relations have historically been shaped by global inequalities in the distribution of political, economic, military and cultural power.  Those with resources – generally countries and practitioners in the global north – have generally been able to initiate and support international cultural collaborations and relations.  With a lengthy period of international travel being banned, how have international cultural relations been impacted and reshaped, if at all?  Or, how should we redo international cultural relations in the light of our recent experiences?

Status: To be offered monthly after the launch of the STAND Foundation on 1 September.

Having a leg to STAND on

Choreographic mentorships

Concept: 3 young choreographers selected through the Jomba Dance Festival to be mentored by 3 experienced choreographers over a 3 month period in this pilot project. Status: In the course of being finalised.

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STAND IN GOOD STEAD

UPSKILLING PROGRAMME

Concept: An online, weeklong (or a programme that begins in this week) upskilling programme comprising 15-25 courses and 4 masterclasses.  The courses – 1-5 sessions each, will include:

Writing for the screen (aimed at playwrights)

Writing plays for children

Writing plays for young adults

Writing plays

Writing critically about theatre

Writing critically about dance

Theatre for Development

Theatre for Education

Industrial Theatre

Theatre for Education

Using social media and technology to create theatre

Using social media and technology to create dance

Monetising theatre and dance through social media

Acting for camera

Preparing for auditions and agents

Budgeting for theatre and dance

Fundraising for independent productions

Introduction to directing

Introduction to choreography

Getting one’s plays published

Marketing theatre and dance

Touring locally

Touring internationally

Current Dance and Theatre policy

One-person shows

Remuneration within the dance and theatre sector

Masterclasses: Interviews/sessions with 2-3 highly experienced locals and internationals

Directing / Choreography / Writing / Acting

Status: Planned for 28 September to 3 October, in association with the Royal Netherlands Embassy

STAND UP ARTS JOURNALISM Project

Concept: The basic idea is to fund one arts journalist in the north and one in the south with a regular stipend to write about theatre and dance in their respective regions. (There is a desperate dearth of critical writing about theatre and dance).

Status: Funds are being raised for this project.

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STAND ON CEREMONY Gifts

Concept: STAND offers a variety of live shows, customised or already-existing shows, or activities related to the performing arts, which the public can purchase as gifts to celebrate anniversaries.  These can include a short five minute sketch, a stand-up comedy piece, a reading from a play, a poem written and read for the person, a lunch/dinner with a performer, a photo opportunity with someone whom the ‘giftee’ admires, etc.

Status: Artists being invited to submit gift ideas.

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