About the Factory of the Arts

Lodged in the larger initiative of the Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities, and supported through the CHR at UWC, the Factory of the Arts is envisaged as both complementing a humanities inquiry and stimulating cultural production in a variety of creative disciplines, among them photography, performance, painting, music, and film-making. Its larger ambition is to establish an experiment in arts education that will catalyse new approaches which link the arts and humanities.

As a site for cultural production, the factory, or school, of the arts inspired by the South African community arts movement of the 1980s, particularly Cape Town’s Community Arts Project (CAP) (1977-2008). In South Africa, community arts projects rooted themselves in an era when there were very few opportunities for education in the arts for those marginalised by apartheid. From threadbare beginnings, these projects developed into vibrant places of cultural production, attracting people from various social layers, but particularly from townships and other marginalised neighbourhoods.

In the aftermath of the near collapse of the community arts movement after 1994, the CHR’s Factory of the Arts is aimed at re-establishing a creative hub, educational environment, and home for cultural practitioners, aspirant community and other artists, curators, and students of the arts. While the factory will cater primarily for those from neighbourhoods where opportunities for arts education and creative endeavour are few and far between, there is, however, no restriction on who may register at the school.


The Factory of the Arts is located in the Lydia Williams Centre for Memory, 128 Chapel Street, in what was formerly District Six. In the 1980s and ‘90s, the St Philips building was home to the Community Arts Project (CAP), which played a critical role in developing the cultural voice of Cape Town’s oppressed communities.