THE stage is all set for the Tsogo Sun SunCares Performing Arts Academy’s year-end concerts which will joyfully showcase what 480 youngsters from 12 underprivileged schools in Gauteng have learned through the integrated programme in the course of the year.
Vusi Dlamini, Group HR Director of Tsogo Sun explains, “The Academy aims to make a real difference in children’s lives by developing their artistic talent, providing life skills development, and supporting the educational framework by creating extra-curricular activities, as well as potentially providing tertiary opportunities to learners within the programme.
“It was piloted in one school in 2012 and then launched in 2013 as a carefully designed full-year curriculum using the arts as a catalyst to provide opportunities for change in the lives of young people in communities around Johannesburg.” The SunCares Arts Academy provides a foundation in the basics of drama, dance, vocal training and voice projection, together with a structured lifeskills course that covers a broad spectrum of topics to
empower the youngsters to make sound choices throughout their lives.
The Academy is running in seven schools in Diepsloot near Montecasino and five schools in Mayfair near Gold Reef City, with 480 learners in total – 40 from each school. The learners go through a rigorous selection process to ensure that they have the potential and the dedication to do well in this Arts programme. Grade 4 to 7 learners are selected for the primary school programme and Grade 8 to 10 for the high school programme.
Nine primary schools and three high schools are enrolled in the programme this year.
By the time the end of year concerts come around, the youngsters are bursting with excitement and anticipation – and extremely keen to show off their newfound skills to their communities as well as to a wider audience.
“The concerts focus on the performing arts that have been learned through the year and incorporate items that display the different school groups’ dancing and performing skills as well as individuals who have shown particular talent in a specific area,” says Shanda Paine, Tsogo Sun’s Group CSI Manager. “The concerts are inspiring and are quite remarkable evidence of what can be achieved with a lot of enthusiasm, a desire to work hard and
apply learnings, well-trained facilitators, and a fine-tuned curriculum.”
Renowned South African singer PJ Powers is the patron of the Tsogo Sun SunCares Arts Academy and is deriving immense pleasure from time spent with the children, coaching and encouraging – and instilling a sense of confidence in their ability to be the best they can be.
Tsogo Sun commissioned Minimax Performing Arts, which has been providing young South Africans with a platform to express themselves through the performing arts for more than 12 years, to develop and run the programme in the schools with four co-ordinating staff members and 12 facilitators who are given on-going weekly training.
As with all Tsogo Sun’s SunCares programmes, the Arts Academy is founded on strong partnerships with relevant bodies that include the Department of Education, with the schools, with leading learning and training institutions, and increasingly with the communities where the children who attend the academy live. The scepticism that was evident among parents of the selected children at the start of the programme has dissipated as the children’s academic standards have been maintained, their lifeskills have
improved, and they have developed exciting new skills in the performing
The first two concerts are held within the communities where the schools are based and are attended by adjudicators from the National Eisteddfod Association (NEA), who then select the top performers and the best schools to go through to the finals. These will be held at the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City on 23 October and will culminate in an awards ceremony for the winners in several categories, including the top high school, the top primary school, the best three individual performers, the most enthusiastic educator and the best performing facilitator.
“This successful initiative has given us the means to provide gifted youngsters from Diepsloot and Mayfair with the knowledge, confidence and lifeskills needed to reach their potential through the performing arts and it is a privilege and a pleasure to be able to give them the opportunity to develop skills and then showcase them on stage in front of an appreciative audience,” concludes Dlamini. “Tsogo Sun is committed to this investment in
these young lives and looks forward to many future concerts and to seeing these young lives blossom into accomplished people as they move on in their lives.”