During the emergency created by COVID-19, ASSITEJ SA has used the time to build bridges with other organisations and to address the most vulnerable communities, which of course include our artists and our children.
Making new partnerships
A number of new civil society initiatives have emerged during this period in South Africa, and amongst others, ASSITEJ SA has engaged with Im4theArts (a new initiative to bring together artists and all those in the cultural sector, across the spectrum to lobby government for better policies and stronger implementation of these). One of the activities of this organisation has been to create a free Winter School for artists which has taken place from 22-24 June, and which has touched on issues of capacity building, arts education, policy formation, lobbying and advocacy, fund-raising and sustainability, 4IR and much more. We developed a solidarity system where people could contribute money for data for others to participate in the school. We are grateful to ASSITEJ for the use of our professional zoom platform for this Winter School.
We have also engaged with the development of a new funding organisation which will support theatre and dance artists beyond the COVID crisis, called the STAND Foundation. Further we have become a member of three new organisations: SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL CHILD RIGHTS COALITION (SANCRC), an association which is bringing together partners from the health, education, justice, child rights, child welfare etc; NASCEE which is an initiative of organisations working in the educational sector (across all subjects and disciplines); and the Theatre and Dance Employers Association (which is lobbying to get support for artists who have been employed by organisations over the last three years).
While you may say that none of these organisations are our core business, we are finding that these collaborations are bringing great richness to our work, new contacts and new allies! It is exciting to see where these partnerships will lead.
Dong new things – making resources
In addition, we have been working with new partners to create activity packs for children who are not able to access theatre online. This speaks to making creative activities available to the poorest and most vulnerable children. The Treasure box of activities was based on characters from a local play, Florence and Watson, and takes children through activities linking to physical, social and personal wellbeing, as well as creativity and arts-based explorations in the time of COVID. The treasure box has now inspired local radio programmes and has been translated into 5 of South Africa’s languages, apart from English. It has been delivered with food parcels before schools re-opened, and is using our network of schools, members and partners to assist with delivery. Engagement is growing all the time. For more information go to https://www.thelearningtrust.org/treasure-box-activity-pack
We have been working with various partners to take our projects online. These include our educational empowerment programme where we have been creating short instructional videos for our teachers which can be shared on WhatsApp, which is the most accessible online app.
In addition, our Storytelling work has gone online on Facebook Live in partnership with Play Africa, the Children’s Museum: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ASSITEJSouthAfrica/events/?ref=page_internal
This will also now be part of the Virtual National Arts Festival, which can be watched daily from 25 June – 5 July at 14h00 SAST. You can find out more here: https://nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/isitimela-sendaba-the-story-train-2/