Name of the responsible structure : Arts and Media Access Centre
Type of structure : non-governmental art organisation
Profile of the initiators of the project : artists
Continent : Africa
Country : South Africa
Address :16 Harrington street Cape Town 8001
tel : +27 21 461 0891 / fax : +27 21 461 0385 / +27 21 465 2008
Mail :
Contact : Graham Falken (co-director) / Karen Thorne (Co-director)


"Empowerment through Creativity and Communication"


Twenty-five years since the formation of the Community Arts Project (CAP) and the subsequent separation of its offspring, MediaWorks, in 1996, the two organisations have made a historic decision to join forces once again to form South Africa’s first Media and Arts Access Centre, based in Cape Town’s inner-city central improvement district.

Mediaworks and CAP emerged out of the oppositional arts and media movement of the 70’s and 80’s. Both organizations share a common vision to empower marginalized communities through art, drama and the media. We believe that by bringing together our expertise and resources we can serve marginalized communities more effectively by offering a fuller range of services cutting across the related arts and media disciplines.


South Africa’s fledgling democracy is dependent on a diverse communication and cultural environment that reflects all South Africans. Arts and media have an important role to play in reconstruction, development and nation building. In the media this is through its ability to provide people with access to information and the ability to communicate their needs in the process of transforming their living conditions. The creative industries in general are a powerful tool for economic development and as a means to reflect SA unique indigenous, cultural identity in the face of global homogenization of culture.

The extent to which the media and cultural environment have been successful at fulfilling this role is under question. Mainstream media is inaccessible to the diverse groups that make up our country, and does not reflect the lives or the issues of marginalized communities, in particular. Both public and private media operate in a top-town manner and are characterized by the one-way flow of information from a predominantly middle class, urban and male-dominated elite. Despite some progress in arts, the profile of the recipients of most public and private resources, remains unchanged. For example the old ’performing arts boards’ may have changed their names but they continue to consume the bulk of government spending on the arts.

The underlying causes of unemployment and poverty remain the biggest stumbling block to an individuals’ ability to communicate, access information or pursue a career in the media or arts in South Africa. Entry into the media and arts industries is hampered by numerous factors. The majority of schools remain ill-equipped and under-resourced and most young people leave school without having had access to quality arts education. This leaves them unable not only to study these disciplines at tertiary level but denies them access to professional art production. Formal or tertiary education opportunities are out of the reach of most people due to high entry-level requirements as well as the high fees required. School leavers have limited English language skills and limited access to computers and other resources. These factors have a negative impact on media and cultural diversity in South Africa today.

In the media and arts there is a need to address both the historical denial of access to arts education and the technical means or resources for the production of media and artworks. At a content and theory level there is a need to challenge the hegemony of the West and to build the foundations for an open yet uniquely South African aesthetic. In this context the role of civil society in nurturing and growing the cultural expression of ordinary South Africans, both individually and in their communities, is critical.
We envision a country where everyone has access to the means of communication and creative expression as a vehicle for personal and community empowerment.


The new media and arts centre is an innovative model in the field of culture, communication and development in the context of broader efforts to promote urban renewal and integrated rural development. By coming together to form a "creative hub" we aim to provide a vehicle for communication and cultural expression by ordinary people who live in and around Cape Town. Equally importantly, the centre will function as a development hub for community media and arts centres serving rural areas throughout the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape.

Target Group

• Previously disadvantaged individuals seeking employment opportunities in the media or arts.
• Emerging community media and arts centres throughout the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape.
• NGO’s and CBO’s seeking to use communication and creative tools as a means to advance their social/development objectives.
• Ordinary people or "communities of interest" seeking access to media and the arts such as school children, prisoners, the aged, disabled people.


• Education and training, including hands-on production experience and media literacy/cultural studies.
• Access to facilities and ongoing mentorship in order to facilitate media and arts production and income generation for graduates.
• Support services, including technical and organizational development, SMME support, training referrals, job and internship placements and career development counseling.
• Professional communications services to NGO’s, Government and the private sector including, DTP, graphic design, copywriting and editing, web page development, print management and communications consultancy services.


• In 1998 CAP was the first organisation to win the "Cultural Development Organisation of the Year" award from the Arts and Cultural Trust of the President.
• CAP was one of the first NGOs to engage with the National Qualifications Framework and the South African Qualifications Authority. This early involvement led to the nomination of CAP staff members Mario Pissara and Joseph Gaylard serving on the National Standards Body for Arts and Culture representing the interests of civil society. Joseph Gaylard subsequently became the Chair of this NSB.
• In 2003, Mediaworks piloted a Graphic Design Learnership at Level 4 for CreateSA, a partnership between MAPPP-Seta and the Department of Arts and Culture, resulting in organisational accreditation and the accreditation of our core curriculum and trainers.
• In 2003, Mediaworks was contracted by the newly established Media Diversity and Development Agency" to undertake a baseline study into "The Development and Current State of the South African Community Media Sector" in partnership with the HSRC.

Social and artistic disciplines


1) Community Media and Arts Outreach Programme

This goal of this programme is to support the establishment of community media and arts centres serving the communication and cultural needs of marginalised communities throughout the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape.

Interventions are informed by participatory planning (which includes research, strategic planning, resource mapping and a needs assessment), followed by customised training designed to build local capacity to achieve identified goals. Additional support services include technical capacity building, organisational development, partnership-building, advocacy and research.

In order to achieve these goals Mediaworks works in partnership with:
• Local government, municipalities, MPCCs and telecentres
• Community media (radio, print, audio-visual and multimedia initiatives)
• Civic structures, NGOs and CBOs.

2) Foundation Skills Development Programme

The goal of this programme is to contribute to the transformation of the arts and media sectors by training young people from historically disadvantaged communities in the core skills of design, visual arts and theatre. The aim is to offer training of sufficient quality to facilitate access into further and higher education and/or open pathways into independent art and media production

Activities in 2003 include 3 full-time, one-year foundation courses with generic fundamentals in computer skills, life skills, communications skills, numeracy and cultural studies, breaking up into specialist modules in painting, graphic design and DTP, drama, photography, ceramics and journalism. Each course recruits up to 20 young people.

Present partners include CreateSA, MAPPP Seta, National Arts Council, City of Cape Town, National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and SIDA.

3) Special Interest Media Programmes

The Special Interest Programme targets sectors of civil society, including individuals that do not necessarily wish to pursue a career in the media but who wish to use media as a tool for social change and development. The programme provides customised services based on request as well as running established, set programmes. The programme has plans to work with the aged and sports organisations in the future but currently targets the following interest groups:

CSO Media Programme
The goal of this programme is to build the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) to use media and communications as effective tools to promote their development and empowerment objectives.

This is achieved by providing a six- week "media toolkit" training course (part-time over one-year or full-time), as well as customised training on request. AMAC provides follow-up support where needed, including access to facilities for media production and distribution. This programme targets NGOs, CBOs and activist groups in the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape with a special focus on the issues of HIV/AIDS, land rights, gender and the environment.

Schools Media Programme
The goal of the Schools Media Programme is to provide the youth with access to media and communication as a means to promote their participation in school and community life. Many participants, through their exposure to the media, go on to pursue a career in the media.

This is achieved through a holiday training programme followed by the quarterly production of "Just Youth", a youth newspaper produced by learners. Training is followed by Saturday workshops, during which topical issues and themes for the publication such as gender, HIV/AIDS, child abuse and education are discussed and researched.

AMAC works with 40 previously-disadvantaged schools in and around Cape Town and trains 120 new participants per year. In 2003, Mediaworks introduced Media Clubs in 10 of the participating schools, in collaboration with the Community Video Education Trust (CVET), which is setting up Film Clubs in the schools.

Prisons Media Programme
AMAC’s Prison Media Programme is aimed at promoting access to media as a tool for effective communication amongst prison inmates and between inmates and prison authorities in South Africa’s overcrowded and conflict-ridden prisons. Prison media, such as a newsletter or radio station has the potential to act as an important medium for information dissemination, entertainment, conflict resolution and education on issues such as HIV/AIDS within prisons.

The programme is based on the success of media training conducted by Mediaworks at the Hawequa (Youth) Correctional Services over the past five years. More recently the programme was extended to the Pollsmoor Prison Women’s Section where the programme was a major success and the prison now boasts its own regular newsletter, produced by and for inmates dealing with prisoners issues and concerns. The programme is designed to function as a "demonstration model" with the aim of lobbying the Department of Correctional Services to include media and communication training as an integral aspect of prisoner rehabilitation within the South African prison system. Through this partnership AMAC hopes to accommodate requests made to extend these services to other prisons in the N, W & E Cape.

4) Professional Development Programme (PDP)

Many learners, once they have graduated, do not have access to facilities to practice their newly-acquired skills in order to, for example, type up a CV, develop a portfolio or design a brochure for their organization. The PDP is concerned with post-training production support and income-generation and includes the following elements:

The Media Access Lab
The Media Access Lab provides scheduled access to a state of the art computer laboratory for graduates, under the mentorship of an experienced access lab facilitator. Through this opportunity, graduates are in a position to apply and upgrade their skills, produce media products and generate an income for themselves.

Design Studio
The Design Studio operates as business, offering professional design and communications services to NGOs, government, and the private sector. The goal is to position AMAC to benefit from lucrative design and communications tenders by virtue of its ability to provide professional design and communication services, on the one hand, and its skills development and black empowerment objectives, on the other.

The Design Studio takes on interns from the Foundation Skills Development
Programme and mentors learners in the Media Access Lab. Support is provided to all AMAC programmes, including the design, layout and production of publications as well as the organisations marketing materials.

Just Youth
Mediaworks produces a youth newspaper called Just Youth as an outcome of the hands-on, production-based learning and a strong youth focus cutting across all of the programmes. The paper is produced on a quarterly basis and is contributed to by all learners. The long-term goal is to increase distribution, to secure distribution through a mainstream daily and generate an income through advertising, sponsorship and a "news agency". This income will cross-subsidise training.

The Resource Centre
The Resource Centre offers learners and staff access to relevant information resources both in book, periodical and electronic form. The RC Coordinator provides support to all graduates through career guidance counseling, job and internship placements, further training referrals and SMME support. The RC is currently setting up an effective tracking system to ensure the monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment of our training interventions.

Performing and Visual Arts - PDP
The P&A PDP provides a platform for artists with foundational skills from HD communities to launch their careers. The aim is to provide access to resources, materials and equipment for the independent production of artworks/theatre with a uniquely South African/African voice.
The programme targets emerging artists from HD communities who already have basic skills but lack the proficiency to become established and make a living from their art-making.

Activities include two full time courses in Visual Arts and Theatre combining core modules in painting, ceramics, sculpture and printmaking, acting, movement voice, research and writing with business and marketing skills. There are also opportunities for mentoring, placements, exposure to artists in residence and experience of mounting exhibitions and touring productions to a range of audiences. Each course recruits up to 10 participants.

Modified on Thursday 26 February 2004