WATCH: Dancing to a new tune at the Outreach Foundation Hillbrow music school

Amisi ‘Coco’ Mubale came to South Africa with only a dream.

He is one of the teachers at the Outreach Foundation’s Music Centre in the heart of Hillbrow.

Coco, as he is affectionately known, came to the country in 2001 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

He sought asylum from the war.

“The only way to escape from being in the military was to run away,” he told News24.

“In a sense it was stopping people from realising their dreams,” he explained.

His permit did not allow him to study or work but all he wanted to do was pursue a career in music.

Fast forward 17 years, and Coco has just completed his Grade 8 exams in the theory and practical of music with the University of SA (Unisa) – Grade 8 being the highest qualification attainable.

Coco joined the piano class at the music centre in 2009.

“I was happy to be doing something,” he said.

The 44-year-old said he always had a passion for music.

“My parents said I started singing when I was two years old. They told me that I used to wake them up with my singing,” Coco recalled.

He said he was inspired by Congolese music and still worked it into his compositions.

Coco frequently broke into song as the interview continued and went on to play a tune from renowned composer Mozart.

He said he was grateful to the founders of the music centre.

“If it was not for this centre, I’m not sure I could have made it by myself.”

The foundation funded his studies and he now passes on his knowledge to the youth of Hillbrow and surrounds.

The Hillbrow Music Centre was founded in 1999 to fill the gap in extra-curricular activities in a community notorious for drugs and crime.

It offers lessons in violin, cello, marimba and the clarinet mainly to youth between the ages of 12 and 19.

The music centre is one of the many programmes the Outreach Foundation runs, including judo and drama workshops.

The foundation describes itself as a project that “aims to keep children and youth off the streets and provide them with activities that support their holistic development.”

Ute Smythe, a violin teacher who has been with the centre since its conception, said she hoped the centre would grow.

“Instruments like the violin, the cello and clarinet, they play in an orchestra … I want them to grow so we can some day present an orchestra,” she said.

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THE STAR: Learners share stories on stage

Sbahle Vezi(yellow dress) with her cast form the Rand Tutorial College, performs during the Inner city performing art competition at the Hillbrow theatre. Gauteng. Picture: Itumeleng English 

“Without stories, we don’t know who we are as a nation.”These are the words of Modisana Mabale, a facilitator for the winning play at the Inner-city High Schools Drama Festival, which ended on Saturday.

Pupils from Isizwe-Setjhaba Secondary School in Vereeniging lifted the trophy after they were crowned the winners at the 14th annual event held at the Outreach Foundation Hillbrow Theatre in Joburg under the theme “African Futures”.

Project co-ordinator Thabang Phakathi said the theme was aimed at giving participants the opportunity to engage, investigate, research and unpack various ideas and stories that spoke to them.

“The Outreach Foundation provides a platform to showcase the talents of the learners. It also instills discipline and leadership – they have to engage in an active way while they create the play together,” Mabale said.

“They learn to trust each other. Whether the learners are going to be a doctor or a nurse, they learn about creativity, about life. It is time for parents to take their children to theatre and to tell stories.”

Phakathi said that when the festival started in 2005, there were only six schools from the inner-city participating.

He said that over the years, schools from various areas, including Vaal, Soweto, Ekurhuleni and Alexandra, showed interest in participating in the event.

This year, there were 42 schools showing off their talent. The schools had to produce a 30- to 35-minute piece for the festival to showcase their talent to patrons and judges, including veteran actors Mpho Molepo, Baby Cele and Isibaya telenovela actor Bongani Gumede.

Cele said the judges had seen amazing work on stage.

“It is amazing how these kids, when given a chance, can create and perform their wonderful stories on stage,” Cele said.

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Soweto looting condemned‚ community urged not to take law into own hands

Residents of Jabavu, Soweto, loot a foreign-owned spaza shop after Banele Qhayiso was allegedly shot dead by a shop owner on August 29, 2018. 
Image: Thulani Mbele

The deaths of three people as foreign-owned shops were looted in Soweto are evidence of what can go wrong when communities take the law into their own hands.

The destruction‚ fuelled by claims that foreign-owned shops were selling expired or hazardous food‚ saw Johannesburg MMC for health and social development Mpho Phalatse call for calm.

Three people died on Wednesday as community members went on the rampage‚ looting foreign-owned shops in parts of Soweto.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) condemned the xenophobic nature of the attacks‚ called on law enforcement officers to arrest the perpetrators as well as investigate allegations that some shops were selling food that was not safe for consumption.

“The perpetrators need to be charged with attempted murder for poisoning community members if these allegations are true‚” said Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla.

Cosatu said there had been allegations that some retailers had supplied expired food to foreign-owned shops but there had not been the political will to investigate the claims. “Cosatu calls for a comprehensive investigation that will get to the bottom of this issue and the bigger retailers also need to be held accountable and prosecuted if necessary‚” said Pamla.The death toll following looting of foreign-owned shops in Soweto has risen to three‚ said Gauteng police.

The Outreach Foundation‚ an organisation which offers support for migrant communities at risk‚ also condemned the destruction and looting of shops‚ describing it as a clear act of criminality that was fuelling xenophobia.

“We call upon affected foreign nationals not to take the law into their own hands and to report these criminal acts to their nearest police station and to ask for the assurance of their safety‚” the organisation said.

The City of Johannesburg said its environmental health practitioners‚ formerly known as health inspectors‚ were working around the clock to raid formal and informal food outlets following complaints from the public about the sale of expired food items.

Phalatse said it was important to let law enforcement agencies conduct their raids on some shops and not compromise the rights of lawful traders.

Phalatse said although she understood the frustration from communities‚ who bore the brunt of unscrupulous traders‚ she called for calm.

“The fatalities in Soweto are evidence of what can happen when communities take the law into their own hands. I would like to urge residents to please work through official channels to expose these offenders‚” said Phalatse.

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House and Leisure Outreach Foundation buildings

Outreach Foundation’s buildings are featured in this highly respected magazine along with glimpses of the work done by Outreach Foundation’s Boitumelo.

To view more, please click on the photo

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Alumni in the news!

We are very proud of Naledi and Thomas Dwebi performing with The National Youth Orchestra on the production Dream Big! A charity event that took place on 18 August 2018.

The interview took place on ENCA.

The Outreach Foundation Music Centre: inspiring creative journeys.

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“Hillbrowfication”, The Hillbrow Of The Future

Driving through the streets of Hillbrow means navigating narrow streets made that way by the Rea Vaya, traffic that moves in a hectic manner, and an area that is defined by rules which can truly only be found on those streets. In the heart of this chaos, the Hillbrow Theatre can be found. This almost 40-year-old theatre forms part of the bigger Outreach Foundation which operates in Hillbrow. It is this foundation which provides a space for children from the community to learn art, music and dance in a relatively safe environment.

The Dance Umbrella Festival was started in 1989 as way to provide a free and open platform to any form of dance. The aim of the festival is to celebrate the diversity of dance in South Africa. And it is for the 30th anniversary of the festival that the Hillbrow Theatre Project will be putting on a dance work titled Hillbrowfication.

This project aims to explore a Hillbrow of the future, where the young cast have been challenged to reimagine their neighbourhood and to develop the show based on their perceptions and experiences of xenophobia and violence in the city.

It leads on from a previous production that the theatre did called Izaro which looked at the Rwandan genocide.

Gerard Bester is the manager of the theatre and has been involved with the project for the past ten years. Speaking about the themes of the project, he said: “What was exciting for us was that the conversations that were happening in the theatre were being taken into the classroom, were being taken back home and was confronting teachers and parents about their prejudice and about their misconception about why people come to South Africa so that was very exciting to hear.”

The cast consists of 21 children and youth ranging from the age of five- to 22-years-old along with members of Dorkypark. All of the children in the performance are from the surrounding community and are a part of the theatre project. The children also formed a part of the creative process for the performance through debate and conversations around the issues being raised.

The dance work is being directed by Constanza Macras, director of Dorkypark, a Berlin-based dance company. It is being produced along with the Maxim Gorki Theatre Berlin and with the support of the Goethe-Institut. The project will be on from 9 and 10 March in Hillbrow. The production will then be moving to Berlin for shows on 1 and 2 April at the Maxim Gorky Theatre.

Bester told The Daily Vox that the theatre got involved with the project because of the importance of collaboration saying, “It’s an extraordinary collaboration. And the cast have taken to it. It’s got that magical combination for me of professional dancers, we’ve got three of our graduates and then from five years all the way to nineteen years is our participants. I think that coming together of professionals and children provides a space where growth is extraordinary,”

The 2018 theme of the theatre is African Futures and this project as well as the high school festival which happens later in the year will be engaging with this topic. Bester said the project wants to unpack what that is and what it means.

“For me, it demands that we engage the imagination, it demands that we engage a possible reimagining of the space, of the neighbourhood that we live in, re imagining ourselves in that space but it’s also looking at the past […] and how we can re imagine that in the future.” said Bester.

About the importance of the theatre as a whole, Bester says the theatre provides a safe space where children can come together with a new group of people to play and investigate the world: “A lot of the participants speak about the Hillbrow Theatre as another home […] So a lot of the children spend over ten hours a week with us and it becomes a safe communal space which there aren’t many in Hillbrow.”

He said it’s also a space for those who might be othered because of their sexuality or because they’re a foreign national as it’s a space of acceptance.

The children involved in the project were hard at work running through the final practise before the premiere of the show on the 9th when The Daily Vox team visited the theatre. In the audience, watching the practise was the father of one of the participants, Timothy Nyoui.

His son has been a part of the project for two years and says he has noticed a change in his child as a result of the theatre: “He is always keen to go to the theatre and now my child is not playing around in the streets so I am well impressed about that.”

He says he is very excited to see his child perform because he didn’t think this would be something serious and that he could be watching him one day.

Nyoui says the theatre is very important: “I wish it can help more children the way they helped with my child. It shows the child will be having a bright future once they join.”

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New library for Hillbrow youth

READ FOR LIFE: Row of books at the Outreach Foundation Youth Center’s library.
NEW HORIZONS: Children eagerly wait for Lindiwe Madumo from the Department of Basic Education to cut the ribbon to the Outreach Foundation Youth Center.

The youth of Hillbrow finally have access to a new library/computer center which has opened recently by the Hillbrow Outreach Foundation

They often had no access to books and used to travel a long way to go to a library, said Robert Michel, executive director of the Outreach Foundation.

“When we asked both our staff and the youth what was needed in the area, everyone said a library.

“We were happy to oblige and thanks to generous support from the Vodacom Foundation we now have a beautiful library and ICT.

“The youth now have a place where they can read, do research for projects both through books and online, type up their projects and complete their homework.

“Also, our library staff are eager to help and inspire them,” he said.

The Vodacom Foundation has also placed Puseletso Phoofolo, a Vodacom Change the World Volunteer, with the Hillbrow youth for one year.

The volunteer will work full-time in the centre and assist the youth with homework, research, job applications and more.

The new library was opened on March 23 by Lindiwe Madumo, who represented the department of basic education, on behalf of the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga.

GROWING POTENTIAL: Lindiwe Madumo with Ethel Munyai.

“As she cut the ribbon, the hordes of youth and their parents who were eagerly waiting to see the new library, quickly went in and excitedly looked at the rows of books on the shelves before settling down to listen to the opening speeches,” he said.

Michel also thanked a variety of donors across Gauteng.

He specifically thanked Rotary Bedfordview and Northcliff High School.

Ethel Munyai, the programme manager for Outreach Foundation’s Youth Centre, said the space was also important as it would get children off the streets, especially during school holidays and get them reading, an essential skill that will empower them to reach their full potential.

Entrance to the library is free to the children of the area, and they are encouraged to respect the rules of the library, be considerate to others, practice good manners and respect the books.

KEY TO THE FUTURE: The Outreach Foundation Youth Centre Library’s ICT Centre. The youth now have a place where they can do research for projects online, type projects and complete homework. Staff are eager to help.

The Outreach Foundation offers support and development to people living in the inner city of Joburg and beyond.

Through skills development, advocacy and arts enrichment programmes, the foundation seeks to inspire creative and empowering journeys for all looking to achieve their full potential.

For more information about Outreach Foundation or to help us with our work in urban communities, please go to www.outreachfoundation.co.za

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Skelms steal from skills development charity in Hillbrow

SAPS Police Tape 

Damage estimated at over R150‚000 has been done to the premises of the Outreach Foundation in Hillbrow‚ Johannesburg‚ over the past weekend‚ the upliftment and empowerment organisation said on Monday.

Thieves gained entry to the premises by breaking the gate in Edith Cavell street‚ the organisation said.

They then tore apart the box containing the electrical connections between the solar panels and the premises and ripped off the solar panels from the roof. One of the panels was damaged during the theft and was left behind with the rest of the destroyed items.

Executive director Robert Michel said: “We had‚ through generous donations‚ been able to purchase solar panels. These panels were to be the start of our self-sustainability project‚ and we were just about to channel much-needed funds usually used to pay for the running costs of the premises‚ such as electricity‚ back to our beneficiaries. But with the theft of the panels this weekend and the damage to our gate‚ we are back to square one.”

“This theft will severely hamper our ability to care for the communities of Hillbrow. So much time and money will now have to be spent fixing the damage done.”

The Outreach Foundation’s mandate is to provide skills to unemployed people.

“We are appealing to those who may know something about the theft to go to the police. We are also appealing to the community to help us protect our premises so that we can continue to help as many people as we can‚” Michel said.

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Artslink: Outreach Foundation presents ‘in my mother’s womb’

Hillbrow Theatre’s latest devised work is directed by the skilful Gcebile Dlamini, choreographed by Sibusiso Hadebe with Paul Noko as the dramaturge.In My Mother’s Womb is an evocative story of resilience, spirituality and hope. The play offers an intimate look into what it is like to live with blindness. Drawing from personal stories of the inter-generational cast of youngsters and the elderly, Dlamini challenges the audience to suspend the privilege of sight and use other senses to experience how the blind perceive the world. The production is in collaboration with Tswelopele Frail Care Centre and the Johannesburg Society for the Blind.

In My Mother’s Womb is centred on the protagonist Siphokazi, who was born blind after her mother was bewitched by her family. Determined for Siphokazi to survive, her parents sent her to a special school for the blind where she learns how to cope with her condition. This artistic work explores the nuanced and complex relationship between Christianity and traditional healing and asks if these beliefs can work together.

To awaken one’s spirituality, Dlamini says we all need to crawl back to our mother’s womb and acknowledge our complex existence. She experiments with the womb as the metaphor of darkness and asks the following questions: does one live with generational curses? Does the spirit world exist? Can hope keep one alive? Can tragedy turn into a blessing?

Dlamini says “we learn the true meaning of dreams and hope through the blind. They can touch what we cannot. After every rehearsal of this work I ask myself, what kind of world could we inhabit if we all took the time to understand the world’s forgotten senses.” Through the exploration of blindness, this play is an example of the endless possibilities of how one can express oneself differently in the absence of sight.

In My Mother’s Womb is an innovative performance that we hope will incite engagement and conversation around re-imagining blindness in our communities.

Venue: Hillbrow Theatre
21 March 1:00 PM (Preview)
28 March 6:00 PM

Venue: Drama for Life SA Season
April 13 6:00 PM
April 14 3:30 PM

Venue: POPArt
21 April 3:30 PM
27 April 3:30 PM
28 April 3:30 PM (To be confirmed)

Gcebile Dlamini is one of the core facilitators at the Hillbrow Theatre Project. She is a theatre director, educator, writer and actress from Swaziland. She completed her Diploma in Drama at the Durban University of Technology, B-Tech at the Tshwane University of Technology and an Honours in Applied Drama and Theatre from the University of the Witwatersrand’s Drama for Life Division in 2015. She is a recipient of the Dr. John Kani Theatre for Social Change Award 2015, Naledi award winning Production for Best Community Theatre 2013 and Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival 2013 -2017. Dlamini has collaborated with The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative, the University of Fort Hare (community engagement), Drama for Life and Soul City Soul City.

Paul Noko is a theatre practitioner. He has done extra ordinary work with community theatre groups. His writing credit includes work includes Bucket, Fruit, Hisstory, The Cursed Vagina and Gifted. He has acted in the multi-award-winning Tau directed by Thabiso Rammala and MoMo Matsunyane, Chillagaebolae by Kgafela Oamakgokgodi. His television appearance includes Scandal, Sokhulu and Partner, Isiqumo, Ukholo, Face of Metro 2008 and Crazy entertainers KFC advert. Noko is currently studying a BA Honours in Applied Theatre at Wits Drama for Life.

Sibusiso Hadebe is involved in the Creative Inner-City Initiative (CICI). In 2017 he graduated at Drama for Life (DFL) – Wits University in Applied Drama/Theatre. He has coordinated various performances including Injebo Yakwantu. Hadebe works at the Hillbrow Theatre Project facilitating theatre productions. In 2008, his performance Rock Challenge was awarded best production at the Joburg Stadium. He has been creating contemporary dance pieces annually for the Dance Umbrella through Hillbrow Theatre, as well as music/drama productions for the South African National Community Theatre Association (SANCTA), the Southern African Theatre Initiative (SATI) and Sibikwa Arts Centre.

The Hillbrow Theatre Project is one of the key programmes of the Outreach Foundation, a vibrant community centre situated in the heart of Hillbrow. The Outreach Foundation provides inter-cultural, multi-disciplinary programmes that offer support and development opportunities to the neighborhood’s residents. Through its various activities it presents children, youth and adults with the chance to engage with arts, culture, skills development and heritage activities. In this way it hopes to improve communication, encourage participation and build a strong sense of community in Hillbrow and the inner city.

The Outreach Foundation was started in 1998 with the intention of creating a peaceful and safe haven within the inner city of Johannesburg. Eighteen years later this safe haven is a bustling hub that provides the community with the resources and tools necessary to deal with the many challenges faced in the inner city.

Its activities focus on developing a sense of self-worth for all its participants and seek to inspire creative journeys for all wishing to achieve their full potential. It is through the development and empowerment of individuals that it aspires to build a strong community. All of its projects are driven by its core values of humanity, equality, awareness, passion, political consciousness, anti-violence, transparency and integrity. Its vision is to create a self-sustaining, positively charged and prosperous Hillbrow neighbourhood that inspires the whole of South Africa.

For media enquiries, interviews and/or images, please contact Gerard Bester on 011 720 7011 or hillbrowtheatre@outreachfoundation.co.za or Gcebile Dlamini at gcebile.d@outreachfoundation.co.za

Artslink.co.za Account:
Gcebile Dlamini
Outreach Foundation Hillbrow Theatre Project
hillbrowtheatre@outreachfoundation.co.za
011 720 7011
072 181 5005
Hillbrow Theatre Project
www.outreachfoundation.co.za

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Stories of Hillbrow – More than a Single Story

PRESS RELEASE

Outreach Foundation and the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama (University of London) are delighted to announce their plans for our Youth Day Event: June 15, 2019, co-run event celebrating alternative stories to Hillbrow:

Stories of Hillbrow – More than a Single Story

Shifting narratives of Hillbrow by placing young people and women at the centre of the storytelling.

We extend a warm welcome to you and your family to attend our celebratory event showcasing work from our projects, run in partnership with the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, University of London.

We invite you to come and engage with our performance-making and our digital stories, take part in a panel conversation dialogue, chaired by Mwenya B. Kabwe (a Johannesburg based, Zambian theatre maker, lecturer and mother), to consider alternative narratives of Hillbrow, and to share a meal with us at the close of the event.

This year we have been working with practitioners from the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama exploring digital storytelling as a means of celebrating alternative narratives of living and being in Hillbrow. Entitled Extraordinary, Ordinary Women, we have explored the role can digital storytelling can play in exploring forgotten histories of women and communities. We have worked with Outreach Foundation members and their extended families and communities to create a series of short films and digital stories to share.

We have continued our partnership with the Ward 21 Clinic at the Wits RHI Centre which begun in 2018, with a building of a sharing of practice and an exploration of young people’s health rights in Hillbrow. This year, we are working with young people from St Edna’s Secondary School and Barnato Park High School, alongside emerging practitioners from Royal Central and in collaboration with students from the Market Theatre Laboratory to interrogate ideas about what it means to be a young person living in Hillbrow and how to enact your health rights.

Finally, the making of Sounds Like You and Me has been a reflective and inspiring journey for the cast of young and old from Outreach Foundation and Tswelopele Frail Centre. As a group we are undaunted and believe in using our voice, imagination and actions to respond to our complex history and social questions (10 minute extract).

We will then hold an open discussion between panellists and the audience about shifting narratives of Hillbrow, before moving to the Rooftop Theatre Deck to share food with the option of participating in a dance workshop. Skotsifontain, a local dance project, promises to get us all up and dancing their unique version of Bhengu.

Timings:

10.30am – Performative welcome

11am – start of the performances and film premieres (Hillbrow Theatre)

11.45am – Panel Discussion: Chaired by Mwenya B. Kabwe

12.30 – food and dancing – A Bhengu dance workshop by local dance company Skotsifontein (Rooftop Deck)

Location: Outreach Foundation, 30 Edith Cavell Street, Hillbrow

For more information contact:

Erica Lüttich  erica.l@outreachfoundation.co.za

Kat Low katharine.low@cssd.ac.uk

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Inter-generational project ‘Sounds Like You and Me’ premieres this month

The Outreach Foundation’s annual creative inter-generational project, Sounds Like You and Me, in partnership with Tswelopele Frail Care, premieres at the Constitution Hill Human Rights Festival on 23 March 2019.

The project, now in its fourth production, see youth from Hillbrow’s Outreach Foundation and the elderly from Tswelopele Frail Care (also based in Hillbrow), explore music as a way to trigger sweet and bitter memories, and use true  accounts of the sad, joyous, reflective, funny, and at times, obscure and random stories and memories, to create an exciting theatrical experience.

The show’s director, Gcebile Dlamini, has again assembled a stellar creative team to bring the show to life: Carmen Ho for the dramaturge, Bigboy Hadebe for choreography, and acclaimed African Jazz Pioneer musician, Madoda Gxabeka, as well as Quinton Mamabolo, for music. Together, Gxabeka and Mambolo will bring the nostalgic sounds of Jazz and marimba to the production.

Over the last three years the inter-generational project has travelled from the Olive Tree Theatre in Alexandra, where it brought young and old to witness the production (for many of the elders, this was the first time they had ever been in a theatre), to PopArt in Maboneng, and to the Emakhaya Theatre at the University of the Witwatersrand (home to many Drama for Life Festivals).

It has also travelled to Cape Town to the prestigious 19th ASSITEJ World Congress and International Theatre Festival for Children and Young People in 2017.

In addition to its premiere on 24 March at the Constitution Hill Human Rights Festival, the project will perform at:

Hillbrow Theatre                                              30th March

South Rand Recreation Centre                   6th April

Tswelopele Frail Care Centre                      13th April

Gerard Fitzpatrick House                              27th April (Still to be confirmed)

Hillbrow Theatre (High Schools)                 17th April

Itlholomeleng Old Age Home (Alex)        Date still to be confirmed

National Arts Festival                                     July

For more information on the project, contact Outreach Foundation on 011 720 7011 or email hillbrowtheatre@outreachfoundation.co.za. ‘Sounds Like You and Me’ are looking for sponsors and support to extend the tour to the National Arts Festival this year. Contact Outreach Foundation if you would like to fund or support the project.

The project has been made possible through the generous support of the Danish Agency for Culture. Outreach Foundation would also like to thank and acknowledge Henrik Haartman, Naghmeh Mahmoudi Kashani, and the C: NTACT team for inspiring this project.

To view the second production of the project presented in 2017, young@home, go to https://youtu.be/oeMvDVQUp0k

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14th Annual Inner Cities High Schools Drama Festival kicks off in Hillbrow

 For immediate release: 2 September 2018

 A record number of schools are participating in the unique Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, from 31 August 2018 to 8 September 2018 at the Outreach Foundation Hillbrow Theatre.

 The youth from the inner-city of Johannesburg and further afield are acknowledged for their leadership, courage, creativity and talent by performing their stories on stage in front of a large audience and an esteemed panel of adjudicators including Mpho Molepo, Baby Cele, Bongani Gumede and Gcina Mkhhize Olifant.

 Dumisani Dlamini, the acclaimed actor, remains the loyal Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival Ambassador and has, in the weeks leading up to the festival, visited each of the inner-city schools participating, to encourage learners in their play creation and to inspire their creative journeys.

 The theme for 2018 is African Futures and is aimed at giving the students the opportunity to engage, investigate, research and unpack various ideas and stories that ‘speaks to them’ regarding the theme. Thinking about African Futurism is not limited to imagining advances in science and technology, but is intended as a way for the learners to explore how they imagine themselves, their communities and their environment in the future, using the many languages and materials of theatre-making.  It is hoped that this exciting theme will open their imaginations to create inspiring new imaginary worlds.

 The festival aims to change lives, inspire creativity and promote positive change for the students that participate.

“The Outreach Foundation is thrilled to yet again host the festival,” says Gerard Bester, Manager of Outreach Foundation’s Performing Arts Department.

 “And we very pleased that the partnerships formed to bring this festival to life are growing. Our partners are the Department of Arts and Culture, Rand  Merchant Bank (RMB), the Market Theatre Laboratory, Bread for the World, Exclusive Books, Assitej South Africa, the Johannesburg International Arts Alive Festival and now the Ford Foundation and Drama for Life.

 Bester explains that the festival offers dramatic arts experiences and skills directly to inner-city schools, while the outreach programme offered before the festival provides drama training to inner-city learners where they are assisted, guided and mentored in the production of the plays they enter into the festival. This programme is a response to the reality that most inner-city high schools offer little to no arts and culture education. Learners are unable to partake in cultural activities as part of their education or investigate possible future careers in the arts through exposure to arts and culture training. This festival aims to bridge that gap.

 The team of 31 facilitators who go into inner-city schools to work with the learners on a weekly basis before the festival, is made up of a combination of facilitators from the Hillbrow Theatre Project, young artists working in the city and second-year Market Theatre Laboratory students. Eleven former Market Theatre Laboratory students are employed to work in various schools. This is a point of pride for the festival as it is now able to provide paid work opportunities for young artists in the city.

 “The impact of the partnership between the Market Theatre Laboratory and Hillbrow Theatre has been far greater than I initially imagined – I am amazed and delighted by how many alumni continue to work with schools in the inner city, and how it has re-shaped and focused the career trajectory of many of the Lab students who have participated. I look forward to building on this partnership to provide more opportunities for young people in the city to experience the arts.” Clara Vaughn – Head of the Market Theatre Laboratory

Polished stage performances are only one aspect of how the creative process benefits young participants. During each outreach programme class, each participant has to contribute to an exercise. This instils a sense of responsibility and builds confidence for those who are shy.

 Tapiwa Towindo (19) says that festivals are very important for children who have a passion for the arts.

 “It gives them a voice to share their art with the audience. It also creates a lot of awareness and teaches people not to undermine children because the stuff we are putting on stage is extremely powerful. Grown-ups tend to turn a blind eye to children. The art is a great medium for the youth and the adults to meet and have a conversation about the social issues that we are faced with today because when the adults go, the world is going to be ours.

 “I think art festivals are really, really important in that transition of power and responsibility from the adults to the youth. Also, it is important for kids to get noticed as I was. I was fortunate enough to get noticed. For people who have dreams about pursuing a career in the arts, festivals are a good place for that to happen. They are good for noticing talent and also for the message you are trying to convey.

 “The audiences are also extremely important because, without them, there is no one to appreciate the art. There’s a saying that goes, ‘if a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one to hear it, did it really fall?’ So, the audiences are there to make sure that the tree did fall”.

 Says Thabang Phakathi, Project Coordinator of the Festival: “It always surprises me at the talent we unearth through the inner-city drama festival. There are so many children who have so much to offer but have never been given the opportunity to show what they can do. This festival gives them the chance to shine. It gives them a chance to reimagine their futures”.

 For more information visit www.outreachfoundation.co.za or search for @HillbrowTheatreProject and @OutreachFoundation on Facebook or Thabang Phakathi on 072 816 2616 or 011 720 7011.

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Looting and destruction of foreign nationals’ property must stop and protection given to all

30 August 2018

The Outreach Foundation strongly condemns the destruction and looting of shops owned by foreign national shop owners in Soweto on 29 August 2018, or elsewhere in the country.

One of our core functions at the Foundation is to provide psychosocial support in a safe space for migrant communities at risk, marginalised and vulnerable.

According to the City of Johannesburg’s Public Safety MMC Mr Michael Sun, it is believed that the violence in Soweto was sparked by “accusations that shop owners within the community had allegedly been selling counterfeit and expired goods to members of the community”.

The Outreach Foundation sees the actions of looting and destruction toward the foreign nationals as a clear act of criminality that is sparking a fire of xenophobia. We call upon affected foreign nationals not to take the law into their own hands and to report these criminal acts to their nearest police station and to ask for the assurance of their safety.

We call upon community members to please refrain from participating in any criminal activity. We also call upon the police to arrest these criminals and to immediately bring stability and peace to the affected communities.

We also call upon the South African government,  to immediately implement a sustainable strategy of social cohesion involving key government departments, NGO`s and the affected communities.

The Outreach Foundation says NO TO XENOPHOBIA and NO TO CRIMINALITY.

For more information about Outreach Foundation or to help us with our work in urban communities, please go to www.outreachfoundation.co.za

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Hillbrow youth perform in Berlin theatres

Eighteen youth ranging from eight to 22 from Hillbrow, in Johannesburg’s inner city, are embarking on a trip of a lifetime in Germany, thanks to Outreach Foundation and the GoetheInstitut during May and June 2018.

The youth are part of the cast of Hillbrowfication, a production by Constanza Maras/Dorkypark and the Outreach Foundation’s Hillbrow Theatre in co-production with the Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin.

The youth arrived in Berlin on 16 May 2018 and had their first show in Valencia on 19 May 2018. During their stay in Valencia from 20 to 24 May, they attended workshops before flying back to Berlin where they will perform for various German schools on 28 and 29 May. From 1 to 3 June, the cast will perform at the Maxim Gorki Theatre and will return to Johannesburg on 4 June 2018.

Hillbrowfiction is a futuristic approach to life in Hillbrow. The actors were challenged to re-imagine their neighbourhood in the future sans violence and xenophobia, and then they had to develop material based on their perceptions and experiences and how they wish it would be.

“We are extremely excited for the cast, as this is an experience that may shape their futures,” says Executive Director for Outreach Foundation, Robert Michel.

“Two of the dancers, who are now in their twenty’s, have been with us since they were in their early teens and are now mentoring the younger ones. They are taking what they learnt from our theatre and from all the productions they have been in, and are inspiring our Hillbrow youth.

“Also, international exposure such as performing in Germany can leave a huge impression on these children and could catapult them into a career in the arts”.

Hillbrowfication premiered at Outreach Foundation’s Hillbrow Theatre in March 2018 as part of the 30th anniversary of the Dance Umbrella Festival. The Goethe-Institut has supported the production and is funded by the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

The Outreach Foundation offers support and development to people living in the inner city of Johannesburg and beyond. Through skills development, advocacy and arts enrichment programmes, the foundation seeks to inspire creative and empowering journeys for all looking to achieve their full potential.

For more information about Outreach Foundation or to help us with our work in urban communities, please go to www.outreachfoundation.co.za

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NEW LIBRARY OPENS FOR CHILDREN OF HILLBROW

The youth of Hillbrow often had no access to books and used to travel quite a long way to go to a library, but now, thanks to empowerment and skills development organisation Outreach Foundation, they have a brand new library and computer centre right on their doorstep.

“When we asked both our staff and the youth what was needed in the area, everyone said a library. We were happy to oblige and thanks to generous support from the Vodacom Foundation we now have a beautiful library and ICT Centre,” says Executive Director for Outreach Foundation, Robert Michel.

“They now have a place where they can read, do research for projects both through books and online, type their projects up and complete their homework. Also, our library staff are eager to help and inspire them.

“We are very lucky as Vodacom Foundation also placed Puseletso Phoofolo, a Vodacom Change the World Volunteer, with us for a year. She will work fulltime in the centre and assist the youth with homework, research, job applications and more.”

The new library was opened on Friday, 23 March 2018 by Ms Lindiwe Madumo, who represented the Department of Basic Education on behalf of the Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga.

As she cut the ribbon, the hordes of youth and their parents who were eagerly waiting to see the new library, quickly went in and excitedly looked at the rows of books on the shelves before settling down to listen to the opening speeches.

Ms Madumo thanked the Foundation for ending Library Week so nicely by making this space available for the children of Hillbrow. She said that libraries were essential as it helps to instil a love for reading.

“There is nothing quite like holding a book in your hand and feeling the texture of the paper. Reading a book is special and takes you places. Let’s make reading fashionable. Tell your friends about this library and come here as often as you can,” said Ms Madumo.

During his speech, Michel also thanked the generous support received from a variety of donors across Gauteng, including individuals. He specifically thanked Rotary Books Bedfordview and Northcliff High School. Rotary books donated the majority of the books in the library, and Northcliff High School, many of the resource books.

Throughout the event, the children regularly chanted ‘Knowledge is power and readers are leaders’.

Ethel Munyai, the programme manager for Outreach Foundation’s Youth Centre, reminded all that this space is also important as it will get children off the streets, especially during school holidays and get them reading, an essential skill that will empower them to reach their full potential.

Entrance to the library is free to the children of the area, and they are encouraged to respect the rules of the library which is much like those of any other library, i.e. be considerate to others, practice good manners and respect the books.

The Outreach Foundation offers support and development to people living in the inner city of Johannesburg and beyond. Through skills development, advocacy and arts enrichment programmes, the foundation seeks to inspire creative and empowering journeys for all looking to achieve their full potential.

For more information about Outreach Foundation or to help us with our work in urban communities, please go to www.outreachfoundation.co.za

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OUTREACH TO COMMUNITIES OF HILLBROW SEVERELY HAMPERED DUE TO THEFT

More than R150,000 worth of damage has been done to the Hillbrow premises of upliftment and empowerment organisation, Outreach Foundation, over the past weekend, said Executive Director, Robert Michel.

“We had, through generous donations, been able to purchase solar panels. These panels were to be the start of our self-sustainability project, and we were just about to channel much-needed funds usually used to pay for the running costs of the premises, such as electricity, back to our beneficiaries.

“But with the theft of the panels this weekend and the damage to our gate, we are back to square one. This theft will severely hamper our ability to care for the communities of Hillbrow. So much time and money will now have to be spent fixing the damage done.”

The thieves gained entry to the premises by breaking the gate in Edith Cavell street. They then tore apart the box containing the electrical connections between the solar panels and the premises and ripped off the solar panels from the roof. One of the panels was damaged during the theft and was left behind with the rest of the destroyed items.

The Outreach Foundation works to provide skills to the unemployed people of Hillbrow and especially to the youth. It provides well-run programmes such as

  • Outreach Foundation’s Boitumelo Craft, the Outreach Foundation’s Hillbrow Theatre and Outreach Foundation’s Music School, which through arts education, skills development and creative programmes, enables young people and adults to find economic opportunities and develop life skills;
  • The Outreach Foundation Computer Centre, which focuses on the technological side of creativity and trains learners in practical and essential computer skills;
  • The Outreach Foundation’s counselling centre which provides essential counselling, care and support interventions to the community of Hillbrow especially in areas such as drug and alcohol abuse; and
  • The Outreach Foundation Youth Centre which aims to educate and empower the youth of Hillbrow, to instil positive values amongst the youth, the help unlock their potential and contribute towards their inner healing. The centre also has a social worker who deals with personal issues affecting the youth. It also hosts youth week during the school holidays which aims to provide a safe space and things to do for the children during the holidays.

“We are appealing to those who may know something about the theft to go to the police. We are also appealing to the community to help us protect our premises so that we can continue to help as many people as we can,” says Michel.

For more information about Outreach Foundation or to help us with our work in urban communities, please go to www.outreachfoundation.co.za

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