Sithabile Mlotshwa

sithabile-portrait.jpgSithabile Mlotshwa

Name of your organisation: Thamgidi Studio Foundation

Website of your organisation: www.thamgidi.org

How is your organisation funded?

Self funded mainly through our educational program, fundraising, gift shop and private donors.

Explain what your organisation is about

Thamgidi Studio is an artist led organization which supports international artists’ exchange. We believe that reciprocity of cultures, or the lack of it, is the subject which has great impact on the development of our societies, in the past, now and in the long run. In order to promote communication, understanding and to connect cultures, we believe that art plays a major role. Our goal is to create a platform for intercultural dialogue, by organizing international artists exchange projects, with (e.g. artists in residence, exhibitions, debates and workshops), promoting art education, giving financial support for artists in residency projects and travel grants.

By promoting the international artists exchange projects we believe that this in turn will create opportunities for future collaborations and partnerships, exchange of ideas, sharing of information and of knowledge, which hopefully in turn will promote reciprocity of cultures.

Describe how your organisation is engaged in international cooperation and exchange  

Our organization works in partnership with other organizations specifically for running the international artist in residence program which brings together local and international artists to share knowledge and exchange ideas in a guest artist in residence setting.

 During this guest artist residence, local artists are invited to a meet the artist luncheon, where they share and exchange information and discuss about each other’s work. Besides this, an exhibition of the guest artist in residence, and debate is organized.

We also document and produce a catalogue for the artist’s work.

Describe how your art space relates to the local community. If you are about to open an art space, explain how you related to the local community in your previous experiences

Our organization connects to the local community by inviting international artists for a guest artist in residence project and creating an environment where young people can come together to express themselves.This we do by running an educational program and organising exhibitions which showcase works created by young people. Besides this, we also believe that it is important for the local community to be involved in the arts because art is a big part of culture and at the same time plays a major role in the way we express ourselves and in promoting and preserving our cultural heritage. At present, we are preparing for a multidisciplinary international festival of the arts, which is intended to create opportunities for local and international artists to work in collaboration, through exhibitions, workshops, etc.

The other reality is that art is sadly perceived to be for the elite; where by the rest of the community ends up left out and does not get to participate, engage in dialogue or support the development of art and the preservation of it. This we want to realise through the projects mentioned above.

What are the major internal and external challenges your organisation is facing?

Management skills e.g. getting things done in circumstances where we have no direct controlling authority. Our organization works mainly through partnerships and networking and is at the verge of broadening its activities. With this the challenge is how we can manage and work with creative people who simply can not be ordered around, at the same time being constantly open to new ideas, adaptable, flexible and willing to change.

What are the main achievements and strengths of your organisation?

The way I would measure our organizations’ achievements would be by looking at how much we have accomplished in such a short space of time. For a young organization which is officially only a year old, and started 3years ago as a pilot educational program, I am impressed with the way we have been able to create a residency program, and also managed to award 4 fully funded guest artists in residence of 5000 euro each, gave 5 supportive grants, created an artists archive, and produced catalogues. Besides this, we also have a successful weekly children’s art educational program, a gift shop, library and a small art collection. I believe that our strengths are in our belief system of do it yourself and the drive to achieve without depending on funding.

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