How we began
Just like far too many other places in South Africa, Grabouw is overwhelmed by socio-economic challenges.
Over 70% of its residents are living below the breadline, dealing with extreme poverty on a daily basis, as well as many other challenging circumstances.
Life is tough! Work is seasonal, crime is prolific and children are vulnerable. Those that are able to go to school often attend schools that are over-subscribed and under-resourced. These overwhelmed educational institutions have their challenges compounded every year when an unpredictable influx of new families arrive, seeking work on the fruit farms and places for their children at school. It is impossible for schools to prepare for or cater for this scenario and still provide quality education in every single area. So, when faced with small budgets and decision-making, it is often the arts subjects that are cut in favour of more traditional core academic subjects such as maths, science and English.
Sadly, arts subjects are often treated as a luxury or a nice-to-have when, in fact, their benefits are overwhelming and, we would argue, they are critical to a child’s successful development.
We set up Rural Arts Network in order to fill this gap and have carefully crafted arts programmes to provide as many beneficiaries as possible with opportunities to be creative in a safe and fulfilling environment.
We have witnessed firsthand how having access to the arts is extremely beneficial to children living in impoverished and challenging communities. It equips them with some of the life skills they need to help them deal with the circumstances they face. It also provides them with an avenue for expression, a way to deal with emotions and raise concerns in a safe environment. It reinforces positive attitudes and develops skills that will equip them for the future.
Without the Rural Arts Network those living in the marginalised, rural communities of Grabouw would simply have little or no opportunity to partake in any kind of arts-based learning or expression
Our Vision & Mission
Our mission is to provide youth and families in rural South Africa with access to arts development programmes that are both inspirational and educational in various mediums. By having the opportunity to engage with music, visual art, dance and drama, we hope to ignite hidden potential and encourage the next generation of South Africans to dream big dreams and see themselves as having a role in the future artistic development of our nation and our world.
It’s our vision to seek, ignite, grow and nurture talent in the creative arts, providing a space where that talent can grow into a tool for empowering individuals in geographically rural, diverse communities.
How we work
At Rural Arts Network we are passionate about creating access to the arts for disadvantaged communities.
We partner with schools on the farms and in the townships of Grabouw and in term time we offer regular lessons and rehearsals where we work towards performances and exhibitions. These activities combine to offer a wonderful experience for every beneficiary. They learn new and essential skills and they also get the freedom to have fun. This is something that is often forgotten! The children we serve are so often over-burdened from living in extremely challenging environments that they end up growing up far too soon and don’t have the opportunity to play and be children without pressure.
We are passionate about what we do and the people that we serve. We thrive on discovering hidden potential, encouraging the next generation of South Africans to dream big dreams and enabling them to make a positive contribution to the future artistic development of our nation and our world.