ACT scholarships change young lives.

Since 2009, the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) has been supporting arts students through their scholarship 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.

ACT CEO, Pieter Jacobs says; “It is extremely rewarding to witness deserving young artists pursue the career of their dreams and ultimately develop into the stars of the future. Not only are the scholarships an investment in the quality of performing arts in South Africa, but it is also an opportunity for recipients to increase their employability and improve their lives.”

2011 Scholarship winner, Tankiso Mamabolo says arts students shouldn’t let this opportunity pass by. “The Arts & Culture Trust scholarship is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she says. “You get to work with amazing people who encourage you and help you be the best that you can be. It is also an achievement that stays with you for the rest of your career as people know how prestigious the scholarship is. There aren’t many scholarships that fund the arts, and this is the one to grab with both hands.”

Now a successful working actress, Mamabolo strongly believes the scholarship, which she used towards her degree at The University of Cape Town, helped solidify her place in the business. “Through the scholarship I met many people who worked in the industry, people that I later bumped into while at university, by that time they knew me and my talent, so it made it easier to network.”

Mamabolo says the financial assistance the scholarships provides radically affected her time on campus. “My student life was made enjoyable by the fact that I did not have to stress about funding and could focus solely on improving my craft.”

Fellow 2011 winner, Gugu Gumede, who was awarded with an ACT Scholarship worth R105 000, went on to further her studies in the arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Howard College).

With the help of the scholarship she completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree with majors in Music and Drama and Performance Theatre. She says this financial assistance greatly influenced her life. “Winning the scholarship had such a massive affect in my life. I grew as an artist; practically and intellectually,” she says. “After winning the scholarship I wanted to see what more I could achieve, so decided to enter as many competitions as possible.”

This determination has seen her make it into the top ten finalists of both South African Trace Stars Singing competition 2014 and the South African Converse Get Out Of The Garage competition in the same year. 2015 saw her cast as a choir member in the SABC1 TV drama, UZALO and as a lead character in Mzansi Magic and iButho Media Short film, Kill Joy.

Gumede says a lot of this would not have been possible without her ACT Scholarship, she says arts scholars and students should not ignore this wonderful opportunity.

“I would encourage scholars passionate for the arts to apply for the ACT scholarship because talent alone will not make you a successful artist. I believe that being an artist means being a professional specialist in art, therefore one needs all the practical and theatrical educational experience to enhance their artistry,” she concludes.

This year, the Grade 12 triple-threat scholars will show off their singing, dancing and acting to the following judges: Talent-ETC director and award-winning producer, Jennis Williamson; multiple award-winning local and international star of the stage and screen, Terence Bridgett; actress, singer and cabaret artist, Kate Normington; SAMA winning vocalist, producer and composer, Gloria Bosman; and creative catalyst and consultant, Brenda Sakellarides.

“To ensure as many aspiring performers as possible receive the chance to make it to the final, auditions will be held nationally from June to August,” concludes Jacobs.

The judges will be selecting the winners of the six Grade 12 scholarships on Monday, 10 October 2016, at the final showcase of their talents at The Market Theatre, Johannesburg.

Registrations to apply for the programme close on 31 May 2016. For more information about the programme, as well audition dates and venues, please visit