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Art Partner Support: the superhero within

After another challenging and fulfilling year, we get to take stock of the many exciting projects unique to BAP that have begun to change lives through the arts. For manager Zaid Philander, defining the Art Partner Support Programme has been the biggest achievement as it allows us to ensure future projects that are consistent and impactful.

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Art Partner Support Manager Zaid Philander addressing Community Art Facilitators, their children and guests at the Superhero Puppet Indaba and Exhibition.

We refined the Art Partner Support Programme to include the following four main activities: 1) the organising of Hubs; workshops where all Community Art facilitators can participate in creative up-skilling or improving of themselves as a facilitator and an artist, 2) The Schools Outreach Project, where we work with three different disadvantaged schools per year with training and developing a healing art classroom space, 3) Communications and Public Engagement, which involves all the organising of events and exhibitions and any external communications, and 4) The Bonus module. This is an especially exciting 7-month long project that trains participants in a theme that they implement in their own communities and eventually leads to an exhibition. The Superhero theme, was the Bonus Module for 2018.

“I had the privilege to not only see the entire Superhero module in the training phase, implemented by trainees, exhibited to hundreds of people, instructional kits of this project being shipped all over the globe; but I also got to see the direct impact it had (and continues to have) on 16 dynamic girls of Vrygrond,” said Art Partner Support Programme Manager, Zaid.

During the process, Zaid had the opportunity to be a part of the implementation with our ‘Sewing Masters’ group aged 10 to 12, from the “Heart for Art” after-school project. Every week, he had a chance to guide them through the conceptualisation of each of their Superhero stories and the making of their Superhero puppet, from its birth on paper to its display on the walls of the 100-year-old Youngblood Beautiful Life Building on Bree Street. A reflective Zaid said, “I often wondered whether this project’s achievement was the exhibition that got to see hundreds of visitors and got to instil so much pride in all the kids and their facilitators who got to be a part of it all. Instead, I believe the real magic is what happened in the classroom.”

Every week, the group shared stories and news of four women as examples of heroes that spent time on this earth, to apply a more human aspect to the idea of Super Heroes for these 'Sewing Master' girls. They got to share the triumph of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and the courage and strength she held to move a nation forward, as well as stories from other strong and influential women such as Frida Kahlo, Malala Yousafzai and Lady Gaga, who now runs the largest anti-bullying campaign in the world.

These stories of four powerful, influential and diverse women marked the Sewing Masters with courage and inspired them to see Superheroes as ordinary people. It challenged them to see the ability to become superheroes themselves by overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, just as the role models did. Not only did the superheroes generated from these discussions address current issues and social ills in all the girls’ lives, but it gave them a chance to see their issues as addressable and conquerable. There’s a superhero in all of us.

The Super Hero Exhibition and guests engaging with all the puppets made from a variety of children across Cape Town.

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