The ACT team has been crafting away passionately at an exciting new programme, Thuthukisani, which will take successful applicants on a directed and purposeful journey through entrepreneurial training, development, one-on-one mentorship and the opportunity to pitch for a monetary investment towards their chosen project. The official open call for Thuthukisani will run from 10 August to 3 September 2021.

{Thuthukisani is a call to action taken from the Zulu word Thuthukisa (verb) meaning develop}

The ACT has developed a progressive and impactful new series of programmes and interventions to address gaps in the cultural and creative industries (CCI) from an entrepreneurial and development angle. During the ACT roadshow in 2019, we undertook a nationwide investigative excursion to engage with our stakeholders and uncovered the need for relevant and implementable training and development, as well as for sustained professional mentorship among art practitioners and art businesses.

When evaluating many programme offerings across the funding landscape we realised that there is no holistic approach to the journey of the arts professional in any one programme. Instead, we found that only certain components are satisfied.  Practitioners and business owners could receive mentorship and training, but no monetary investment or grants, often leaving people feeling frustrated and at a loss.

ACT CEO Marcus Desando says: ‘No one organisation can solve the problems in the arts and culture sector – it takes a village – and the majority of the existing organisations are doing their very best to address what they understand to be the immediate needs of their stakeholders. As the Trust, we have radically shifted our focus and role in the industry from that of a grant maker to that of an organisation deeply invested in offering practical, implementable skills to our stakeholders and focussing on the long-term trajectory of the living experience of artists, practitioners and creatives as entrepreneurs. Grants form an important part of the funding landscape but, over the years, many individuals and companies have derailed due to grant dependence and shrinking budgets. Thuthukisani addresses the lack of capacity and opportunity for small-to-medium creative practitioners to develop new projects with mentorship, training and investment towards a sustained participation in the creative economy.’

Thuthukisani is a programme designed to take 63 successful applicants from across South Africa on a holistic and enabling journey to empower them through training and professionalisation. The rollout will take place in three cycles, inviting applications from three provinces per cycle, with seven selected Thuthukisani participants per province. After thorough training and mentorship the participants will then pitch their projects for the opportunity to receive monetary investment. Three projects per province will receive a cash investment and ongoing mentorship throughout the implementation of their project.

Tobie Badenhorst, Head of Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank, says: ‘As we are a bank that prides itself on seeing money differently, the Thuthukisani Programme perfectly reflects Nedbank’s ethos. The programme goes beyond awarding money grants for projects, which are important but don’t always result in the watering of the initiative’s roots to grow further and become an arts enterprise with a future, empowered with the entrepreneurial know-how to operate, evolve and self-sustain. The pandemic era has revealed that this as an imperative.’


Applications open: 10 August 2021

Applications close: 3 September 2021

Outcomes: 4 October 2021

Application details to be released on 10 August.

For more information send an email to


* Only South African nationals may apply and projects must take place in South Africa. Allocation of programme slots is at the discretion of the ACT board of trustees. The decision about all applications for participation is final and no further correspondence will be entered into.



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Notes to editors

Over 27 years of arts funding

The ACT is South Africa’s premier independent development and arts funding organisation. The primary aim of ACT is to increase the capacity for arts and culture initiatives to create sustainable futures, through development and investment in innovative, sustainable projects that make a meaningful contribution to society. Through structured development programmes ACT provides support to all expressions of arts and culture, including literature, music, visual art, theatre and dance, and the support extends to festivals, community arts initiatives, arts management, arts education and arts administration. For more information please visit the Trust’s website. Follow ACT on Twitter or like the ACT’s Facebook page.


About Nedbank

In partnership with the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT), the Nedbank Arts Affinity has donated more than R25 million to support over 800 arts, culture and heritage development projects countrywide. If you would like to make a difference to the lives of talented young artists in South Africa, simply link your Nedbank Greenbacks to the Arts Affinity and Nedbank will donate funds to ACT, at no cost to you. The Arts Affinity currently supports the ACT Thuthukisani Programme and the ACT Tlholo Project. For more information download the Greenbacks app, visit any Nedbank branch, call us on 0860 555 111 or visit