In the first ever Toyota SU Woordfees Artists Week, artists will get the opportunity to hone and refine their skills, ideas and concepts under the guidance of highly regarded facilitators, including theatre makers Andrew Buckland and Sylvaine Strike, dancer-choreographer Gregory Maqoma and poet and performance artist Jolyn Phillips.
The Artists Week will take place from 6 to 11 April 2021 in Stellenbosch with the support of Stellenbosch University, NATi, kykNET and Tribuo.
The programme is open to all professional South African artists with careers in the performing arts. Participants will also be able to apply for assistance to cover the costs of travel and accommodation. Financial support will range from partial to full-cost grants. There is no programme fee for selected artists. A panel will select a maximum number of 50 participants with a view to ensuring the widest possible diversity of disciplines, experience, age and individual contribution in the collective.
The aim of the project is to provide a focused programme for artists of all disciplines that will encourage reflection and re-invigoration and stimulate creativity.
Over the course of a week, the selected artists will take part in a series of workshops, seminars, creative projects and reflective practices.
All participants will be expected to produce a project concept, in collaboration with other participants/disciplines. At the end of the week, these new concepts will be presented as pop-up performances in unconventional spaces in Stellenbosch, and will be strictly governed by the Covid protocols and allowances in place at the time. In this way, the Artists Week will sweep a breath of artistic energy through the town and create some of the sense of connection that has been lost as a result of the pandemic.
Saartjie Botha, Director of the Toyota SU Woordfees and WOW, explains the motivation behind the Artists Week as follows:
“The global pandemic continues to layer our world with uncertainty. For our artist community the loss of livelihood coupled with the severed connections to the tools that nourish their creativity has taken a particular toll.
“The blank schedules, the closed theatres, the empty festival circuit and the interruption to seasonal work patterns have meant that our artists have lost the structures and routines that provide the rhythm – and mental stability – to their lives and creative processes. Physical restrictions took both a tangible and mental toll on the creative sector.
“While some performers and artists were able to shift their practice online and work from home, this has met with varying degrees of success and is certainly not applicable to the majority of our artist community. It has also become starkly apparent that online performances and connections are very far from a cure-all.
“There is no one solution to how we repair our beleaguered arts community, but there is one aspect without which there will be no recovery: We need to help our artists through community.
“The Woordfees Artists Week seeks to create community as a way for artists to regain their sense of identity, re-establish their confidence in their skills and creativity and serve as a springboard for ideas.
“Artists will be valuable investigators and explorers of a new post-Covid world, as we have seen after global crises in the past. That is why they need to be supported, nurtured and stimulated now. We hope that the Artists Week will be the spark that inspires work full of insight and compassion; work that will entertain and console audiences everywhere.”