Over the years the ACT has consistently supported young talent in the arts and honoured those who have significantly contributed to the industry. Over the years the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) has consistently supported young talent in the arts and honoured those who have significantly contributed to the industry. To mark the 18th year of the prestigious ACT Awards, South Africa’s premier independent arts funding and development agency, will pay homage to both young and old artists.

To date, the ACT Awards have recognised over 140 individuals and organisations for their significant contribution to art, culture and heritage in South Africa. These awards show the sustainable impact ACT pursues in the creative industry. 2015 will be the fifth year that ACT’s partnership with the Distell Foundation will see yet another group of young professionals being lauded for the remarkable impression they have made in the first five years of their careers.

ACT CEO Pieter Jacobs says: “The ImpACT Awards for Young Professionals highlight exceptional talent in the industry. This spotlight creates a platform for these young individuals who might not otherwise receive this kind of recognition – recognition that has the potential to powerfully propel sustainable careers in a highly competitive industry.”

With the Distell Foundation’s support, the ImpACT Awards for young professionals are given annually to honour young artists or businesses that have reached a notable level in their career. Giving the masses a voice through the public nomination process, ACT proudly boasts an excellent selection of these individuals in the categories of Theatre, Visual Art, Design and Music & Singing, and the newly-added Dance category.

“The Distell Foundation is proud to invest in young professionals thus assisting them to catapult their careers in the creative arts industry. We wish them success in growing their individual talent and businesses,” says Irma Albers from Distell.

This year’s ImpACT Awards finalists include an array of talented creatives ranging from graphic and interior designers, dancers, visual artists, curators and entrepreneurs; to singers, songwriters and musicians; and playwrights, actors and directors. Every year the variety in skill and talent make the judging process even tougher, and this year is no exception. Each winner will receive a cash prize of R2 000, a certificate, a spread in Creative Feel Magazine worth over R30 000 and additional PR opportunities that will be generated through the ACT Awards. ImpACT Award recipients will also get ongoing backing from ACT in the form promotional support in their professional careers.

The judges for this year’s competition include: musician Sibongile Khumalo, Fine Arts and Arts Education Professor David Andrew, choreographer Jayesperi Moopen, actress Warona Seane and arts and culture development expert and consultant David Thatanelo April. Convenor of the judging panel and ACT Trustee, Moopen says: “The criteria we used as a panel was to honour artistic achievement and the impact of that concept and its aesthetic quality demonstrating talent, determination, imagination and risks.”

The cornerstone of the ACT Awards is the presentation of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards for Visual Arts, Theatre, Arts Advocacy, Music and Literature. Lifetime Achievement Award winners are nominated and selected by the ACT Board of Trustees, the recipient is someone that the sponsors are proud to acknowledge for their contribution to the arts.

The judges specifically choose winners who stand out due to the artistic excellence of their work; their experience in the industry and the impact this has had on their community and the commerce of the creative industry as a whole. The Lifetime Achievement Award winners will each receive R30 000 cash prize, totalling an impressive R750 000 since 2008.

This year, in addition to the five existing Lifetime Achievement Award categories, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) have come on board to support the introduction of the Dance Lifetime Achievement Award. “JTI is thrilled to have partnered with ACT in introducing this award. Dance is perhaps the most under-recognised and un-awarded of the arts disciplines. South Africa’s dancers and choreographers make a profound contribution to the local and international dance landscape and we thank ACT for affording JTI the opportunity to give them the recognition they so richly deserve,” says Corporate Affairs and Legal Director for JTI Lizette Rau.

The 2015 ImpACT Awards are presented in partnership with the Distell Foundation and Sun International. The ACT Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented in partnership with Nedbank Arts Affinity, Media24 Books, DALRO, JTI, Creative Feel Magazine and SAMRO.

The Awards ceremony will take place on 2 November 2015 at Sun International’s The Maslow in Sandton, Johannesburg. For more information visit www.act.org.za


2015 ImpACT Awards Finalists


Angelique Harris – Angelique Harris has represented South Africa with great pride over the past 10 years. Ranked 11th in the world for Rhythmic Gymnastics in 2005 she went on to be the only South African to study at the Royal Ballet School in Whitelodge, London in 20 years. As a young choreographer, her works earned her numerous accolades including the ‘Drum Café Choreographic Award’, SAIBC contemporary gold medal, YAGP New York silver medal, CIBC USA contemporary and musicality award and the VKIBC New York bronze contemporary medal.

Letlhogonolo Nche – Letlhogonolo Nche graduated from Moving Into Dance Mophatong (MIDM) in 2009. In 2010 he started to work as a freelancer and taught at companies such as Virgin Active South Africa and worked with schools such as Pabalelo Primary School and Olehile Secondary School. He had the opportunity to perform in a piece choreographed by Thabo Rapoo at the launch of BIG BROTHER AFRICA and the show was broadcast live on MNet. He continued to perform MIDM’s repertoires as a student, choreographed by the world renowned choreographer Gregory Maqoma.

Letlhogonolo became a choreographer under the Youth Choreographers Professional development programme facilitated by Alfred Hinkel and John Linden. Through this programme he was selected to choreograph works for Dance Umbrella in 2013 and 2014. His first Dance Umbrella piece was Battle Field followed by the 2014 choreography of Violence My Foot. In 2013 he founded “Northern Cape Dance Pages”, a dance festival in Partnership with Mayibuye Dance Academy. Through his teaching guidance, mentoring and leadership at Mayibuye Dance Academy he has had 5 of the dancers realize their dreams of going to further their studies at training and tertiary institutions with one taking part in the ACT | DALRO | NEDBANK Scholarships Programme in 2014 and becoming the first prize recipient.

Sunnyboy Motau – Named among the 2015 Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans set to shape the future, the dynamic powerhouse of Sunnyboy Motau has set his journey, and it aims at the stars. Beginning in community arts groups in Alexandra, he formally trained at Moving into Dance Mophatong (MIDM) continuing to dance and choreograph there. His collaborative commission by the Dance Umbrella 2015 was among the top three of the festival. His work with Jessica Nupen embarks on a month’s heritage tour in Germany. Upward marks Sunnyboy’s destination! Their collaboration is on a piece called Romeo and Juliet “rebellion in Johannesburg” which is currently running in 5 cities in Germany. Motau is also in talks with the Market Theatre for a collaborative theatre piece to be staged at the theatre in 2016.



Laurie Wiid van Heerden –  Laurie Wiid van Heerden was born in 1987 in Cape Town, South Africa. After gaining ample practical experience in the field of design and manufacturing and also being the assistant to Wim Botha for almost three years, Wiid Design was officially created. The business started designing and producing products from 2010.  Laurie sees his work as an interface between art and design. His large-scale, limited edition benches have garnered global attention at Design Days Dubai, Design Miami/Basel in Switzerland and Design Miami in the US, exhibited as part of the prestigious Southern Guild portfolio. A keen collaborator, Laurie often works with artists and designers, like Lionel Smit, Wim Botha, Atang Tshikare, dhk Architects and Ceramic Matters, on projects aimed at pushing boundaries and experimenting with new materials.

Laurie Wiid van Heerden received the “Maker to Market” Award at the annual Southern Guild Design Foundation awards ceremony in 2013. Wiid Design was also awarded the “Conde Nast House & Garden award for production excellence in South African design” at 100% Design South Africa, 2014 and the “Best Lighting Design” award at 100% Design 2015.

Sphiwe Giba – Sphiwe Giba is a Johannesburg-based illustrator with a broad knowledge and understanding of trends and movements. Founder of the company Juxtapoz Concepts, a dynamic creative solutions company established in 2012, Sphiwe thrives on the concepts of innovation and research, which is seen through his body of creative work. From public sculptures, branding, textile design to product design, Sphiwe believes his illustrated designs are for people who love, care and appreciate creativity. He began with a Diploma in Brand Communication Management, specialising in Graphic Design, Photography and Multimedia, sealing his academics with Business Administration with Economics.

Shawn Lukas – Born and bred in Taung, North West, Shawn lives and works in Joburg as a designer by day, composer by night, and illustrator in between. His work is largely influenced by human behaviours and relationships towards the planet’s resources and living beings. From paintings to animation, picture books and games, Lukas’ work takes many forms.  As a long-time collaborator, Shawn Lukas has worked with boxworM and ICRD Group Holdings, on projects as such: Trees+Rhinos which C2-MTL shortlisted to world’s 20 innovative ideas in 2013, and Africa’s 20 innovators by Google.

He has taught visual arts and design at The Johannesburg Performing Arts Academy. In addition, Lukas has also explored the use of the web as a launching and exhibition platform of his works to a wider audience, hand-coding responsive sites and typography. He writes regularly and shares his passion on his website.


Music & Singing

Lindiwe Maxolo – Artist and Music Educator Lindiwe Maxolo is the 2014 Mbokodo Woman in Jazz Award Winner and is known for her enchanting and magical voice. She has a Cum Laude, Honours degree in Jazz Music graduate from the University of Cape Town. TIME; her debut solo Jazz album which has earned multiple award nominations, including: The SATMA Awards 2014 as Best African Jazz Album, and Wawela Music Awards 2014/2015 as Best Creative Album of the Year and Best Female Artist Composer. She was also nominated for a South African Music Award (SAMA) in 2013 and is the winner of the 2002 Afro Vocal Category in the Old Mutual Jazz Encounters Competition. 

Tumi Mogorosi –  Aged 28, (SAMA award nominee, 2014 Standard Bank Ovation Award recipient) Johannesburg born musician; Tumi Mogorosi is increasingly building a reputation in the South African jazz scene among the new crop of young jazz musicians. Besides his intermittent formal studies at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) which he completed in 2012, the young drummer has refined his brush strokes alongside prominent South African jazz musicians who count – among trumpeter Feya Faku, bassist Herbie Tsoaeli as well as Andile Yenana. 

Tumi Mogorosi was also part of the Gauteng Jazz Orchestra which opened the stage for world-renowned American Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis during his 2011 première of the Joy of Jazz. More remarkable is Tumi’s fresh and bold offering as a composer and leader on his debut CD, Project Elo, which was re-released in London by Jazzman Records 31 June 2014. Project Elo has also toured France in December 2014 and performed at the Trans Musicales Festival in Renne.


Thandi Ntuli – UCT graduate Ntuli started playing the piano at the age of 4. Her professional career has included working with Judith Sephuma, The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Jimmy Dludlu, Thandiswa Mazwai, Andy Narell, Selaelo Selota, Neo Muyanga, Marcus Wyatt, Nomfundo Xaluva, Steve Dyer, QB Smith (UK), Zara McFarlane (UK), SirLSG, Nils Janson (SWE) and Lex Futshane, to name a few. Her studio work includes recording on Lwanda Gogwana’s debut album, Chapter One, which later was nominated for 3 South African Music Awards and Steve Dyer’s album Confluence. Her studio jazz album titled The Offering – launched in September 2014 – has received both critical acclaim and many award nominations including a MetroFM Award in 2015 and Mbokodo Award both in 2014 and 2015. 

She’s performed on various local and international stages, including The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, headlined the Grahamstown Youth Jazz Festival in 2015, The Calabar International Jazz Festival in Nigeria, The Arts Alive festival and many more.



Quintin Wils – Theatre maker Quintin Wils graduated from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) with an Honours Degree in Drama. Not even 2 years into the industry, Wils has been named as SA Celebrity Online Magazine’s Top Theatre Maker to look out for in 2015; has directed 13 professional productions, won 2 Awards and has been nominated for a further nine awards including three Naledi Theatre Awards. Wils was also named as one of the ‘Rising Stars’ of the 2014 National Arts Festival and one of Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s, he is currently the Artistic Director of both AbstrACT Productions and VNA Productions.

Thenx – Thenx is a sketch comedy group made up of four young women who met at the University of the Witwatersrand. Kitty Moepang (26), Tumy Motsoatsoe (27), MoMo Matsunyane (27), and Zethu Dlomo (26) are passionate about creating work that holds up a critical mirror to society. They are known for their use of satire and parody to capture the tensions and struggles of everyday life in a comical way. Thenx recently hosted the 5th Annual Savannah Comics’ Choice Awards held at Teatro, Montecasino and their most popular shows include The Triple M Mammmas! as well as The People Shall Kurk!

POPArt – POPArt is an independent theatre space in the Maboneng Precinct (JHB INNER CITY) and production company run by Hayleigh Evans & Orly Shapiro. The theatre opened in March 2011 and has since showcased over 100 brand new theatre works over the past 3 years. In 2015, they launched POPArt productions, which produces in-house cutting edge works. Hayleigh & Orly both studied acting at AFDA and work in the performing arts industry as practising professionals. Having started the POPArt theatre as an independent performance space over 3 years ago, Hayleigh Evans & Orly Shapiro have made a significant impact on the theatre industry in Johannesburg. The space has premiered over 100 new theatre works in this time and has, as such, played a vital role in audience development having exposed a variety of new customers to the theatre. With the launch of POPArt productions, POPArt now plays a more active role in audience development and content production. By creating new and relevant content based on a growing audience demographic, the space is now actively providing sustainable employment for performers, while developing audience bases.



Fortune Bengu – Durban-based artist Fortune Bengu was born in Ulundi, South Africa in 1989. Bengu primarily works as an arts administrator, but also as a curator and artist. Bengu completed a B-Tech Degree in Fine Art at the Durban University of Technology (DUT). He has participated in many exhibitions locally and abroad and has curated a number of successful exhibitions. He is the newly appointed vice-chairperson of the executive committee of the Friends of the Durban Art Gallery.

Benon Lutaaya – Johannesburg-based artist Benon Lutaaya, practises full time since 2011. Unable to afford art supplies, he improvised with waste paper material from the streets of Joburg. Within 4 years his career is making waves. The 2015 ‘Bright Young Thing’ by Art Africa magazine, has donated over R400 000 to different charities, a co-sponsor 2015 Reinhold Cassirer Award, an annual contributor to Ithuba Arts Fund, and recipient of the 2016 European-based residency award by the Southern African Foundation for Contemporary Art (SAFFCA), 2015 support grant by Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), Ithuba Arts Fund grant, the Bag Factory residency, Lovell gallery Artists Competition winner, and finalist BBC MyWorld documentary competition.


Loyiso Mkize – Loyiso Mkize is a South African visual artist and was born in Butterworth. He studied at CPUT in Cape Town where he received his diploma qualification in graphic design. He recently founded his own visual arts and communication company Loyiso Mkize Art (Pty) which publishes the energetic South African superhero comic book, KWEZI. He also illustrates the Supa Strikas comic book that comes with the Sunday World, You, Drum and Huisgenoot print publications every month. When Loyiso is not illustrating comics, he paints.

Loyiso has used the art of painting as a tool to document and express his views and ideas. He generally paints with oil paint on canvas. His subjects, generally African, explore the complex nature that makes up this modern man, his environment, predisposition and culture.