Press release: Head of ASSITEJ SA wins prestigious international award for contribution to theatre for young people

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Yvette Hardie receives the Mickey Miners Award. Photo provided.

The national director of ASSITEJ SA, Yvette Hardie, has been awarded a prestigious international award in recognition of her global contribution to the development of theatre for young people.

Hardie received the Mickey Miners Award in Philadelphia, USA last week (17 January). The annual award is the highest accolade presented by the International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY),to pay tribute to a person who has made a significant impact over an extended period of time to the field of performing arts for youth.

IPAY is a USA-based organisation that aims to nurture, support and expand theatre for young audiences and change the lives of young people through excellence in the performing arts. ASSITEJ (the International Association for Theatre for Children and Young People) South Africa is an NPO which operates as a networking platform in the country for people working with or interested in theatre for children and young people.

Hardie is also currently President of parent organisation ASSITEJ International, which is active in more than one hundred countries. She has been on the Executive Committee of ASSITEJ International for 11 years and was responsible for launching ASSITEJ SA in 2007.

Under Yvette’s leadership,ASSITEJ has reached new heights of inclusion, activity and diversity of form and membership,” said Sue Giles, Artistic Director of Polyglot Theatre, Australia, presenting the award.

Yvette speaks with great power and warmth around the world on the vital place of theatre for children and youth in all our lives,on the benefits of theatre for young audiences,the rights of the child to the arts and culture and the impact of theatre for young audiences as an art form and its influence on the wider industry. We have witnessed her clarity and commitment, her sensitivity to cultural demands and challenges that create barriers to this practice. She knows how to work in difficult political and social situations, how to open doors and, vitally, how to make new doors for people to open… Despite our diverse visions and goals, our different needs and markets, our focus on different audiences, all of us need advocates who never give up; advocates of the stature of Yvette Hardie. ”

I am immensely honoured to receive this award from the esteemed community at IPAY and will continue to build support and funding for ASSITEJ SA’s work in every way I can,” says Hardie.“I am inspired on a daily basis by my colleagues, the artists and the volunteers that work tirelessly to create much-needed opportunities for disadvantaged children and young people in the challenging South African arts environment, and in turn inspire empathy, creativity and hope, as well as a passion for the performing arts.”

ASSITEJ SA’s various programmes have made a tangible and meaningful impact to transforming the lives of young South Africans and helping to build the local theatre sector. Through mentorships, residential programmes, international exchanges and other means, ASSITEJ SA has assisted multiple South African artists to make more and better work for young audiences and to share their work both locally and internationally.

In 2017, ASSITEJ SA hosted Cradle of Creativity: The 19th ASSITEJ World Congress and International Theatre Festival for Children and Young People which comprised a festival, a conference and a world congress. This event was the first of its kind on the African continent. Sixty three productions from 32 countries were presented and seen by 21000 attendees, including 7850 sponsored schoolchildren and nearly 1400 delegates from 78 countries.  Due to the success of this event, ASSITEJ SA will host Cradle of Creativity as a new international festival of theatre for young audiences to take place for the first time in August 2019 in Cape Town. Thereafter it will rotate every two years to a different part of South Africa.

Theatre4Youth is ASSITEJ SA’s ongoing programme to connect theatre to schools and crèches, and its #Takeachildtothetheatre campaign sees children receive funding for transport or subsidies to experience live theatre, many of them for the first time. Theatre4Youth reached 39 497 beneficiaries in the last financial year. This ongoing focus on access resulted in ASSITEJ South Africa being awarded the prestigious Executive Director’s Award at the 2013 Naledis, for making a significant contribution to the advancement and development of SA theatre through their vision and commitment to developing theatre for children and young people across the country.

Other programmes include the Kickstarter Creative Arts Empowerment programme, sponsored by Rand Merchant Bank, which trains and supports Creative Arts teachers in three provinces, and which has also been the recipient of a BASA award. Another initiative is a partnership with the Western Cape Government to roll out a skills development programme to support After School arts coaches across the province and to create vibrant community-based networks for the arts, to benefit children and young people on the ground.

For more information about ASSITEJ SA and how to support their work, visit https://assitej.org.za

Notes to editors:

ASSITEJ (Fr) is the international association of theatre for children and young audiences, which was founded in Paris, France in 1965. It is currently under the leadership of its first African President, Yvette Hardie, director of ASSITEJ SA.

ASSITEJ South Africa is a registered NPO (066-875) established in 2007, which operates as a networking platform for people working with or interested in theatre for children and young people. It aims to promote and foster high quality theatre for children and young people, to raise standards within the industry, to increase access and awareness, to be an advocate for the right of every child to arts education in schools, and to build relationships within the sector locally, nationally, across the continent and globally.

Members (present in all provinces) include: actors, musicians, dancers, directors, choreographers, theatre educators, stage designers and dramatists, as well as theatre companies, organisations and institutions, critics and cultural journalists, cultural officers, amateur drama groups, organizers, societies and other networks.  

ASSITEJ South Africa works to promote international awareness of South African theatre for children and young people, through networking, organising exchanges, touring performances, and by facilitating contacts. Members are given access to a global network of information about festivals, performances, courses and seminars all over the world, with the potential to participate in these activities. 

In 2017, ASSITEJ SA hosted Cradle of Creativity: The 19th ASSITEJ World Congress and International Theatre Festival for Children and Young Audiences. This brought together the world’s best children’s and young people’s theatre to the stages of Cape Town.The event comprised a festival, a conference and a world congress, all dedicated to theatre for young audiences and to the idea of intercultural exchange, both globally and locally.

With approximately 1400 delegates from around the world, over 60 productions and thousands of children who came to see shows, performances took place in different neighbourhoods with four artistic hubs, so that local people were able to be central to the festival. The event was a first for the African continent.

ASSITEJ South Africa is generously supported by Rand Merchant Bank, the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Business and Arts South Africa, and the HCI Foundation. Other funders, supporters and partners have included, the National Lotteries Commission, the National Arts Council of South Africa, the Department of Arts and Culture,Wesgro, the Distell Foundation, the Kids of the Cape, the City of Cape Town, the Cape Tercentenary Foundation, Buz Publicity, Splitbeam Gearhouse, Theatre Arts Admin Collective, the National Arts Festival, The National School of the Arts, Artscape, Baxter Theatre, CATHSSETA, Ruth & Anita Wise Trust, Lorenzo and Stella Chiappini Charitable Trust, UNIMA - Puppetry South Africa, Drama for Life at Wits University, the University of Cape Town Drama Department, The Arts and Culture Trust and Nedbank Arts Affinity, The Government of Flanders, Institut Francaise, Alliance Francaise, Africalia, Pro Helvetia, SIDA, Goethe Institut, Tullow Oil, Copy Dog Productions, Mandela Bay Development Agency, Speeltheater Holland Studio, Bush Radio, FMR, and Cape Town Television. They have also been supported by the UNESCO International Fund for Cultural Diversity for their Theatre4Youth project.

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