African Art Centre

During the past 50 years the African Art Centre has provided thousands of artists and craftspeople with opportunities for self-employment and the realization of their talents.  Originally a project of the South African Institute of Race Relations, the Durban African Art Centre has, since 1984, operated as an autonomous, non-profit organization.  For the first three decades of its existence, it was guided by the late Jo Thorpe, who virtually single-handed, put Durban on the map as an important centre of black artistic development.   

The African Art Centre has adapted to the changed political, economic and artistic landscape and has expanded its operations.  Through various marketing initiatives and with the assistance of their sponsors and supporters, they make every attempt to assists artists and crafters to tap into domestic, provincial, national and international markets.  They persistently provide a supportive environment and direct numerous individuals towards financial empowerment and self sustainability.   

The number of artists and crafters ‘discovered’ has increased exponentially over the past fifty years as have the returns they have realized through their talents.  Development and training programs have grown in number and scope and have reached ever widening groups of individuals and communities, both in the geographical and sociological sense.  Many African Art Centre artists have achieved international acclaim, including Azaria Mbatha, Tito Zungu, Gabisele Nkosi, William Zulu, Trevor Makhoba and Reuben Ndwandwe – however, thousands have had the quality of their lives dramatically improved through the recognition of their talents.   

 

They work with some of the most economically disadvantaged people, who have limited access to capital, technology and resources and reach out to the poorest communities, rural men and women, the disabled, the unemployed, youth, HIV/AIDS affected persons and frustrated artists craving recognition.  Their interventions assist these people in maturing and progressing to a point where they are able to produce high quality, innovative products on an ongoing basis. 

The African Art Centre has a reputation, within South Africa and internationally for supplying specialized, high quality products and they are proud to be recognized as the longest surviving South African organization involved in the development and promotion of the work of artists and craft-workers.    Every purchase made from the African Art Centre provides income and employment for more than 600 artists and crafters currently supported by the Centre. 

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