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 Origins:

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.

Our Purpose

To enable South African arts and culture practitioners to achieve sustainable futures.

To invest in professional and entrepreneurial advancement through proactive solution-driven programming

Over the past 25 years the Trust disbursed more than R23 million to arts and culture projects across South Africa. This excludes ACT Awards prize money and other developmental efforts such as the ACT Building Blocks master classes.

Overall Performance



150 individuals & groups acknowledged



800 bursaries have been issued nationally



32 scholarships allocated nationally



50 bursaries allocated nationally



500 practitioners trained in arts management


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

The Team

Jessica Glendinning
Jessica GlendinningProjects Manager
Katlego Modiri
Katlego ModiriAdministrator
Marcus Desando
Marcus DesandoCEO
Jessica Denyschen
Jessica DenyschenCommunications and Marketing Coordinator
Palesa Molefe
Palesa MolefeProject Coordinator

Annual Reports

2007 – 2008

2008 – 2009

2009 – 2010

2011 – 2012

2012 – 2013

2013 – 2014

2014 – 2015

2015 – 2016

2017 – 2018

2018 – 2019

2019 – 2020