The positive impact that the Tsogo Sun Arts Academy has had on many youngsters’ lives in its two full years of operation inspired two other Tsogo Sun properties to embark on their own local programmes, which are now reaping rewards for the children involved.
Tsogo Sun’s Hemingways Casino in East London and Emnotweni Casino in Nelspruit have launched their own programmes in the areas of arts and crafts and hip-hop dance respectively – both of which are highly popular.
The Tsogo Sun Arts Academy had been operating primarily in Gauteng. It was launched in 2012 as a carefully designed full-year curriculum that uses the arts as a catalyst to provide opportunities for change in the lives of primary and high school learners in disadvantaged communities around Johannesburg. Now the Academy is spreading its wings.
Hemingways has established a Kids for Art/Craft programme, which is run by Belinda MacDonald, Executive PA at Tsogo Sun’s East London property, in conjunction with Sharon’s Arts School and Which Craft? for 50 primary school learners from five schools.
A storeroom was converted into a fully-equipped arts room where weekly classes are run for the junior and senior groups. “There has been such a huge response to the academy that a second class for each age group has been implemented this year,” says Shanda Paine, Tsogo Sun Group CSI Manager.
The classes not only concentrate on art (painting and drawing), but specialist teachers also teach the students other art forms, such as craft work and clay. Already the young budding artists are starting to emerge. Recently three artworks from these learners were submitted to the largest annual child art exhibition in the world being held in China later this year.
Nikita Sidinile, a Grade 8 learner whose artwork is going to China, is very enthusiastic about the art classes and the different things they are learning. “I really love art and what we do in the art classes isn’t just drawing. We are taught how to paint with watercolours and many other paints. It makes me happy to know my art has been selected to go to China. It is really an honour.” Grade 3 learner Eugenio Ross agrees. He started the art classes in January 2015 and loves the variety in the art classes. He says that having his artwork chosen to go to China “makes me and my parents feel very proud.”
Neville Austin, Marketing Manager of Hemingways, says, “We’re encouraged by the response and enthusiasm to learning art by the youngsters and one of our aims is to provide ongoing opportunities for talented learners to encourage their love of art – and have a positive impact on their futures.”
Emnotweni Casino started a Performing Arts Development Programme in 2013, with Hip-Hop dance as the first phase and the SOS Children’s Village in Kamagugu as the place where the programme would have a positive impact. Ten children were selected for the classes. “The objective of this programme is to give youngsters an opportunity to learn a performing arts skill and hopefully create job opportunities for the future,” explains Nicolette Botha, Marketing Manager at Emnotweni and project manager for the programme.
A local Hip-Hop dance teacher works with the children once a week at Kamagugu and the programme is having an impact on the children – with the youngsters participating in the Eisteddfod last year and some taking their first Hip-Hop exams. “We have high hopes for the youngsters participating in this programme – and apart from their dancing talent, we can see improvement in their discipline and respect for others, which is very encouraging,” says Botha.
Paine says, “We’ve seen the arts as an excellent platform to teach life skills, including self-confidence, finding your voice, responsibility and commitment, as well as working in groups. With this strong foundation, our Arts Academy programmes are growing from strength to strength – and with it, the children are too.”
Tsogo Sun’s portfolio includes over 90 hotels and 14 casino and entertainment destinations throughout South Africa, Africa, the Seychelles and Abu Dhabi. For further information, visit tsogosun.com.