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Using art to change lives

Written by Samona Murugan

Sport, arts and culture

Art is a form of expression, so why not inspire learners to express themselves. These are the sentiments of hotel group Tsogo Sun who, together with the Gauteng Department of Education, have launched its Sun Cares Arts Academy in 12 schools in Gauteng.

Pupils at 40 schools in Gauteng are being taught to channel their creativity through tie-dye. They are being taught art through an initiative by Tsogo Sun and the Gauteng Department of Education.Through a specially designed full-year curriculum, learners are taught to use art to change their lives, says Shanda Paine, Tsogo Sun’s Group CSI Manager.

Six schools in Diepsloot near Montecasino and six in Mayfair near Gold Reef City – have been selected. Forty learners with the potential to do well in the arts programme were chosen from each school and in total 480 learners from Grades 4 to 9 will receive two sessions on speech and drama, dance, vocal training, voice projection and other fun-filled art activities.

“The lessons and projects will also teach learners life skills that will cover a broad spectrum of topics to empower the youngsters to make sound life choices throughout their lives,” says Paine.

The first lesson will see learners channelling their creativity with a lesson in tie-dye. This is an art form which uses paint to create patterns on clothing. Learners will tie-dye T-shirts which will also double as their uniforms for the duration of the programme. “It is also a chance to see their individual expression of creativity.”

According to Paine, the Art Academy is part of the hotel group’s SunCares programme, which was launched in 2012. The programme is closely aligned to government’s priority of introducing extra-curricular activities back into schools. Minimax Performing Arts, which has been providing young South Africans with a platform to express themselves through the performing arts for more than 12 years, was brought on board to develop and run the programme in the selected schools.

“It is very important for us to create various social programmes, entrepreneurial development and to be environmentally responsible. Building talent and capability in the performing arts sector is a big priority for us,” said Paine.

Glenn Joseph, the general manager of Montecasino and project head, is enthusiastic about the potential for the programme. “We are extremely excited and proud to reach so many youngsters in such a meaningful way. I have no doubt that we will soon see these youngsters embrace their teachings and one day see them make a real contribution to the performing arts in South Africa.”

At the end of each year, the programme will host a performing arts extravaganza where the children will present their own productions within their communities.

For more information on SunCares log on to www.tsogosun.com