An Observatory-based non-profit organisation focusing on performing arts needs help to find a place to run projects from.
The West Academy of performing arts (Wapa), under the Lesch Antics Productions NPO, is helping disadvantaged artists by giving them training and a platform to show off their talent. They are currently operating from Catsville residence at CPUT.
Jean-Pierre Lesch, founder of the organisation, says: “As I am a Masters student, I was able to negotiate with the student residence to make one of its halls available to us, but we would like to get our own space.”
Lesch says members are offering training in acting, dancing, music, theatre making, scriptwriting, performance creation, makeup, costume design, business arts, theatre in education and life skills.
He says as an art student he discovered that many youngsters saw their talents dying because they did not have the means to fund their education. A lack of career guidance and resources would also discourage them, he says.
He and his friends took it on themselves to create a platform and empower those in need. He says they work with skilled mentors to make sure quality training is offered but lack of support and resources is still a challenge for the NPO.
Lesch says: “We are about 15 permanent members in the organisation. Our students participate in our productions and get exposure. Our major challenge is a location to operate from. We do not have our own building, thus we make use of other institutions’ spaces. We also do not have finance. We are asking for the community to assist us with an old house, building, warehouse, factory or whatever available space may exist for us to operate from.”
He says they accept trainees from the age of 14 upwards and encourages Grade 11 and 12 learners who want to pursue a career in the performing arts but can’t afford to study further to approach them.
They participated in the Zabalaza theatre festival this year, staging the original production Dirty laundry en vuil wasgoed, which received a nomination for each of the Most Promising Actor and Actress awards.
Linfard McConney, one of the trainees, says the programmes offered have helped him grow in his art and he would like to see the organisation grow and empower many other young artists. He says the only obstacle that is putting strain on their progress is the lack of space to accommodate all the programmes and allow the smooth running of administration. He encourages members of the community to get involved and support the local talent.
McConney also advises young people to not be afraid of following their dreams and seeking help from support organisations. “We as young people need to get up and fulfil our dreams. We should not let social challenges deprive us of reaching our dreams. The arts can be a career if you know how to make it work for you. Go out there and look for help and take advantage of the available organisations like ours,” he says.