Arts Council beneficiary turns community around

Sipho Tshabalala started Born to Prosper to uplift marginalised community members in Mangaung.

Sipho Tshabalala has become one of the latest young people to be awarded funding from the National Arts Council (NAC). The Mangaung native is the founder of Born to Prosper (B2P), a non-profit organisation that is determined to uplift the lives of young and vulnerable people in Rocklands and Botshabelo.

Last year, 237 South African organisations and projects received NAC grants, totalling R49-million. As a beneficiary of the Arts Council, B2P is able to not only inspire local artists but also to help them put food on the table through their craft.

The intention: to give people in Mangaung’s under-resourced communities the tools they need to be self-reliant, build a dignified future for themselves and prosper – through the arts as well.

“B2P is based on what’s happening in a lot of black communities where you see many kids and people with disabilities who have no hope or motivation. Yet there are young guys there who have talent; they are sitting with a skill and are loitering in the streets, threatening to waste that talent. Some of these informal sector artists are really good, they can reproduce a picture or portrait on sight,” explained Tshabalala.

Currently the organisation draws on the communities in which it operates to train and deploy teacher assistants, sports coaches, and volunteers in the fields of arts and crafts, horticulture, enterprise development and safety. The organisation also undertakes community development and advocacy programmes for young people, women and people with disabilities.

Armed with its vision to create vibrant, self-reliant communities that contribute to the Free State economy, B2P Community approached the NAC with a proposal to get budding Free State artists much-needed work and exposure, while fulfilling a public service and cultivating an appreciation for the arts.

One of B2P Community’s young volunteers is Richard Leepo Tsoai, regarded as a “star” emerging artist in the Bloemfontein area. He was unable to attend formal art school because of financial constraints, but has an innate artistic talent that he imparts to schoolchildren as part of his volunteer work with B2P Community. He is now regarded as a change maker in his community, he is able to put food on the table through the stipend he earns, and he is helping to nurture a love of art in his young wards.

Tsoai is one of the artists creating portraits for the community group’s NAC-funded Faces of Government Art Project. This initiative aims to support, promote and advance the arts in the Free State in particular, while educating school children about the province and the country’s political leadership – and, at the same time, encouraging patriotism.

The closing date for this year’s arts project funding applications is 30 April 2020, with the results due to be announced in July 2020.

National Arts Council applications are open to individuals and registered arts organisations in need of project funding. Register and complete the online application form by 17:00 on 30 April 2020 using the following link: There is also a video on the NAC’s YouTube channel to assist with online applications.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele