A night of surprises at the Arts & Culture Trust Nyoloha Scholarship Programme Awards


After a week of rehearsals and masterclasses, the 15 finalists chosen to possibly walk away with a fully paid scholarship valued at R350 000 to study for an arts degree at a South African arts institution of their choice, waited with bated breath to hear the announcement of the winner of the Arts & Culture Trust’s (ACT) Nyoloha Scholarship Programme. Just as the winner was about to be announced, ACT Interim CEO, Jessica Denyschen made a surprise announcement: not one, but two scholarships would be awarded, one in visual arts and performance arts.


The excitement and anticipation was evident among the finalists and guests attending the gala held at Montecasino on Saturday, 8 October 2022. Sounds of joy and clapping emanated when 20-year-old Liam Rose from Johannesburg received the Visual Arts Scholarship Award. He thanked the ACT and programme funders, saying: ‘We need more scholarships. There is a whole generation of young artists coming through. Thank you for giving me this responsibility, I will do my best to make the most of it.’ Performing artist Marang Khwene, also from Johannesburg, said she literally felt like she was dreaming when she heard her name announced as the winner of in the performing arts category. ‘Can someone just pinch me?’ said 19-year-old Khwene. Both the scholarship winners completed their secondary schooling at the National School of the Arts (NSA).


The surprises kept coming! During the ceremony, the Market Theatre Laboratory invited finalists India Wesi (17) and Yolo Mazwai (18) to audition for their two-year performance and theatre skills course. Moving into dance offered a one-year scholarship to dancer and performer Sanele Kobe (25). These surprise additional offerings not only inspired the recipients but also the audience who gave the finalists a standing ovation for their interpretation of the theme ‘What matters’.


The audience was possibly the most surprised by the quality, originality and dedication of the finalists to their respective crafts. The visual artists exhibited their works and the performing artists presented a show of movement, dance and song that was touching and impactful while taking the audience on a different journey with each interpretation. ‘All 15 of the finalists deserved to win. I hope that arts organisations and agents attending the ceremony will take them further’ said Artistic Director, Mapula Setlhako.


The scholarship is part of the annual ACT Nyoloha Scholarship Programme, funded by Nedbank and Sun International, and supported by Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) this year. Earlier this year, 89 young South Africans applied for the ACT Nyoloha Scholarship Programme. After an audition process, 54 were selected to attend a rigorous, three-month online mentorship programme, culminating in a week of workshops and tours of artists institutions and then the awards ceremony.


‘The scholarships are the grand prize, but we wanted the programme to be more than this. Which is why, from this year, we have introduced the three-month mentorship programme for up to 60 artists,’ said Tobie Badenhorst, Head of Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank.


Heidi Edson, Head of SED Sun International Group, said: ‘I was blown away by and reminded of the immense talent we have in South Africa. Sun International is extremely proud and grateful to be part of the ACT Nyoloha Scholarship journey and is elated for all the finalists and of course the two winning artists. We are committed to supporting the ACT in the important and impactful work they do and look forward to growing this partnership. Congratulations to all the finalists and to the ACT team.’



In Sesotho ‘nyoloha’ means ‘to rise’ and at the ceremony, ACT interim CEO Jessica Denyschen told the finalists: ‘You are the future of arts and culture in South Africa. I sometimes wonder where we are going in our country until I see such amazing talent rising. Thank you to everyone who is behind our young people.’ Taking what they have learnt and experienced during the Nyoloha Scholarship Programme, working with mentors Estelle Dry-Muller (visual arts) and Samantha Peo (performing arts), the participants are sure to continue rising, taking their place in the world of arts and performance. Watch this space!


To keep in touch with the ACT, please visit their website, follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page.



SUBMITTED BY: Debra de Souza –; WhatsApp calls only – 082 822 9478



The Arts & Culture Trust – Over 28 years of arts support

The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) is South Africa’s premier independent arts development and investment 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 this support extends to festivals, community arts initiatives, arts management, arts education, and arts administration.


About Nedbank

In partnership with the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT), the Nedbank Arts Affinity has donated more than R28 million over 28 years to support over 830 arts, culture, and heritage development projects countrywide. If you would like to make a difference in the lives of talented young artists in South Africa, simply link your Nedbank Greenbacks to the Arts Affinity and Nedbank will donate money to ACT, at no cost to you. The Arts Affinity currently supports the ACT Thuthukisani Programme and the ACT Tlholo Project. For more information visit any Nedbank branch, call us on 0860 555 111 or visit


About Business and Arts South Africa

Business And Arts South Africa NPC (BASA) was founded in 1997 as a joint initiative between government and the private sector as part of a strategy to secure greater involvement in the arts and from businesses operating in South Africa. Constituted in terms of the Companies Act, 71 of 2008, BASA is registered as a public benefit organisation. BASA champions business investment within the arts, cultural and heritage sector, driving focused and sustained partnerships by unlocking shared value and fostering social cohesion. For more information go to


About Sun International

The Sun International brand has a proud legacy in the gaming, hospitality, conferencing, leisure and entertainment sectors.


Sun International’s iconic properties, such as the world-famous Palace of The Lost City Hotel at Sun City and the magnificent Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town – situated on the water’s edge of the V&A Waterfront – have become synonymous with luxury, comfort and outstanding service, firmly establishing the group’s position as an internationally recognised premium brand.


Sun International’s diverse South African property portfolio includes 15 hotels, two premier resorts and 11 well-located casinos – all of which offer modern, fully equipped conferencing and banqueting facilities, while the Sun Vacation Club at Sun City is now a leading timeshare model in the country.


The group is also the local industry leader in online gaming. Thanks to the latest global technology, Sun International also offers the most innovative and exciting online betting experience available through its SunBet platform.


The group has also set the standard for hosting events, and their world-class arenas remain the preferred venues for international events and shows. The three championship golf courses at the Sun City and Wild Coast Sun resorts regularly host large-scale golfing tournaments, including the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, which is now part of the European Tour.


Whatever the activity, all Sun International’s properties and facilities offer a quality experience supported by authentic personal service. Our Most Valued Guests (MVGs) are rewarded with exclusive offers and preferential rates through the MVG loyalty programme, designed exclusively for Sun International gaming patrons.


In February 2021 Sun International joined Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands and operator of an award-winning, multi-brand loyalty programme called Discovery. Through GHA, Sun International can now participate in a network spanning 85 countries with 17 million members.


Sustainability and community involvement form an integral part of the group’s corporate culture. Through collaborative partnerships with government and local businesses, Sun International’s SED and environmental initiatives ensure scarce environmental resources are never wasted, and the group is committed to providing ongoing and meaningful support to vulnerable communities throughout South Africa.


In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Sun International implemented a comprehensive Covid-19 policy and health plan across all business units for the safety of guests, staff and concessionaires. In November 2020 Sun International received an award from the Institute of Risk Management South Africa in recognition of the extensive and world-standard Covid-19 controls introduced across all its hotel and casino properties. Sun International is also a recipient of the World Travel and Tourism Council’s global Safe Travels Stamp of approval.