WHAT IS ACT?
The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) is South Africa’s premier independent arts funding and development non-profit organisation. The primary aim of ACT is to increase the amount of funding available for arts and culture initiatives, and to apply these funds to innovative, sustainable projects that make a meaningful contribution to society. Through structured funding programmes, ACT provides support for 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.
The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) is democratic South Africa’s oldest funding agency.
In 1994, the newly-established Ministry of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (now the Department of Arts & Culture) responded to an invitation from Nedcor Bank and Sun International to set up a body for arts and culture, similar to the Sports and Green Trusts, which were established earlier. In this way, the first three Founding Trustees came together to secure financial and other resources for arts and culture, and to project the needs and role of the sector into the public domain. Each of the Founding Trustees contributed one million rand, which was invested in a Trust Fund, to ensure sustainability and to minimise dependence on annual grants.
At the same time, a Board of Trustees, made up of leading art practitioners and administrators, was established. Its task was to implement the funding policies, to evaluate projects and to decide on funding allocations. Former President Nelson Mandela endorsed the initiative and agreed to serve as the Patron-in-Chief of ACT. In this way, it came to be called the Arts & Culture Trust of the President during his term of office (1994-1999).
During the first five years, two further Founding Trustees – the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Vodacom – joined ACT and contributed to the Trust endowment. Thus, the partnership between the private sector, government and local cultural community was extended to include international cooperation.
Today, ACT functions independent of government and the majority of its support comes from the private sector and ACT’s investment portfolio.
IMPACT ON INDIVIDUALS
- 20 000 direct beneficiaries reach annually (75% BEE).
- Numerous New South African plays, publications and artworks were developed.
- Thousands of artists’ livelihoods have been supported through the Trust’s support .
- New skills have been developed in both adults & children – increasing employability.
IMPACT ON ORGANIZATIONS
- Support enabled some fledgling organisations to grow and develop – in some case, from one-person initiative to an organisation.
- Support is seen as an endorsement of the recipient’s work and can be used to attract other funding.
- Support allows recipients to develop to a point where they can network with other partners and create synergies that make them stronger and reduce their vulnerability.
- Support enabled organisations to later approach other funders with a good financial system in place.
IMPACT ON THE INDUSTRY
- Support added to the vibrancy and dynamism of the sector, both through the support of existing organisations and the support of new, interesting initiatives that might not have developed with support form ACT.
- Support enabled development of materials that benefit schools, curriculum developers, libraries and other organisations.
- Support ensured that arts and culture reaches as many communities as possible, as well as bringing disparate ideas and cultures together.
- Support enabled the creation of employment opportunities or the continuation of employment of practitioners.