Art-centred solutions for unemployed youth in South Africa

Ever wondered if art can change lives?

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There is a rejuvenating collective drive in South Africa to create hope and new opportunities for all. South Africa as a nation is a rich and multi-faceted tapestry. Yet there is a distinct lack of support for talented creative individuals particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds. But there is change on the horizon, as Thea van Schalkwyk South African artist, art consultant and educator explains.

Art and South Africa

Thea says, “Many young people have to leave school before obtaining a formal qualification due to unforeseen circumstances. Dreams are shattered by unimaginable life challenges that deprive young South Africans of a matric certificate. These learners will end up on the street – without prospects and without hope.”

So what can learners do if they are unable to get matric? Thea believes art is the answer.

Sifiso Skenjana, respected economist, recently stated in Fin24, “Within the global context on investing in the creative industries, these have increasingly been recognised as growth sectors and that the lack of transformation in the industry is holding the country back from realising real economic growth from the sector.”

For those who are prepared to think creatively and use their artistic skills, exciting art-centred initiatives can pave the way to a matric certificate and a sustainable income. It could even open doors to very lucrative career opportunities, Thea believes.

Opportunities in the arts

Photography and videography are examples of artistic entrepreneurship. Turning talent into a means to generate an income is an ideal situation. Further opportunities abound including furniture making, crafts and beadwork all could provide much-needed income.

“Recycle artists have also proven to be very popular with tourists and can make a living selling upcycled pieces of art,” Thea added.

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong, Culture Officer for Education and Development at the Pretoria Art Museum in Tshwane endorses the idea of art-centred solutions for unemployed youth:

“The creative industry has been neglected by the main stream society as possible income generator for early school leavers. What is needed are programmes that can channel the creative energies of those who leave school early due to unforeseen circumstances that are linked to financial challenges.

Such programmes can guide the creative to establish their own careers, enterprises or businesses in the creative industries while giving them alternatives to being passive and [thoughts] conducive to committing crime or descend into drug abuse and other social ills that beset our country.”

The Overstrand Training Institute (OTI), Hermanus, Western Cape, South Africa, has  enthusiastically responded to a youth upliftment programme entitled ‘12 Creative Jobs without Matric’. OTI believes that this initiative can empower the unemployed youth, including people with disabilities. They are now looking at implementing a programme based on this e-book.

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© 2020 – Thea Van Schalkwyk – Concept, IP, Text, Images. All Rights Reserved

This new understanding of art-centred entrepreneurship can act as a kick-start for new careers and a chance to complete unfinished studies – bringing hope to South Africa’s talented youth.  

BackaBuddy campaign

To help unemployed youth in South Africa get set up in a career in the arts, Thea has started a BackaBuddy campaign.

Her first ever crowdfunding campaign will focus on presenting an art programme at OTI based on her ebook. The aim is to help those without matric who are creatively talented to use their artistic skills to generate an income with the vision of completing their school studies and create opportunities for possible future careers.

Thea invites sponsors to ‘invest in art’ in a needs-meeting way. As project manager of this programme, Thea kindly requests that all queries relating to OTI and the programme be directed to her.   

To sponsor this campaign and to make a difference in the life of a South African aspiring artist, please click this link.

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