The Imizamo Yethu and Harbour communities were disproportionately affected by The Covid-19 Pandemic – and artists’ families lost all sources of income overnight. After a year of shifting its focus to food security, the charity has bounced back with new initiatives aimed at supporting and educating local artists from these communities.
Intle Art is a registered non-profit organisation that enables disadvantaged, talented and aspiring young artists from the Imizamo Yethu and Harbour communities of Hout Bay to learn and refine both artistic and business skills by producing art for sale.
During the most economically dire time of the pandemic the charity was able to provide it’s artists’ families with weekly vouchers or deliveries of dry grocery packs and fresh fruit and vegetables. Little art was produced during this time and none sold, thus placing strain on the organisation’s ability to even partially self-fund its operations.
Since regulations have been lifted, the charity is back in business, and now tentatively prospering again thanks to the popularity of the adjacent Bay Harbour Market and collaborative initiatives such as the ‘Harbour Art Walk’, which actively attracts people to the area from other communities. The Intle Art Shop, a newly established supplier of quality artistic materials, and a range of public art workshops are aimed at helping to fund the organisation.
Intle Art creates a safe, stimulating environment for children, teenagers and young adults from underprivileged backgrounds to activate creative thinking, develop marketable skills, acquire financial literacy, participate in commercial ecosystems and foster entrepreneurial spirit. Through arts and culture, the organisation aims to develop skills and transform lives via access to opportunities and income in art and design. In addition to producing a body of work for exhibition and sale, members learn business skills – an opportunity not even offered to students of South Africa’s top art institutions.
Founder Jen McKay said, “In just over six years, we have grown from supporting two local boys who simply wished to learn how to draw, to working with a multitude of talented individuals from local communities. We still have a long way to go and are in need of funding, materials and expertise in order to keep our programmes alive.”
Today the charity looks after a select group of 15 teen and adult artists from the Harbour and Imizamu Yethu communities and has brought in local artists such as Jacques Viljoen, Gerhard vd Westhuizen and Sara Gaqa, who are teaching vital skills such as drawing from life, abstract painting and artistic analysis.
Viljoen, a figurative artist from Hout Bay who studied at The Florence Academy of Art in Italy said, “Growing up in Hout Bay the divide between the communities was insurmountable and one would rarely interact or visit other communities. This has changed thanks to Intle Art, who have created an inclusive space like no other in this fractured valley. What sets this charity apart is the breadth of skills on offer and the focus on building a self-sustaining career from art.”
The organization has been active since 2015 and operates from Workspace and Sembach Gallery at the 31 Harbour Rd precinct in Hout Bay every Saturday morning. Most participants are teenagers and young adults with a passion and talent for art – but who would otherwise lack access to practical experience, mentorship, materials and workspace.
By 2022, with the help of the public, the charity aims to reopen to 15 members in the children’s group, which has been suspended for the past year due to social distancing considerations, a lack of volunteers, and financial constraints brought about by the pandemic.