Vision & Objectives



Built on an initial grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in aesthetics and politics, the Factory of the Arts is an effort aimed at enhancing the relationship between the arts and the conceptualisation of a post-apartheid society. It is an integral part of the larger CHR initiative on aesthetic education. How do the arts recalibrate thinking about the humanities in relation to public institutions, politics and critique? How could contemporary debates on aesthetics and politics offer new ways of thinking the subject of the human at the limits of the disciplines marked by apartheid and state oppressions? What conceptual elaborations may emerge out of an encounter between critical thought and multidisciplinary arts practices? And how may these provide for imagining new ways of being, of being in relation, and of modes of thinking that enact a post-apartheid sensibility? The aesthetic education research theme renews a humanities inquiry in which its foundational concepts and categories can be rethought through its encounters with visual arts and photography, music and sound, puppetry and performance, and literary and cinematic forms.

Concerned with critical investigations at the intersection of the arts, politics and publics in post-apartheid South Africa, the theme is conceived in terms of a “distribution of the sensible” (Rancière, 2004), where disciplinary categories, artistic conventions and art practices structure social orders of inclusion, visibility and hidden-ness. Out of this conjunction of arts practices and humanities scholarship, the Factory of the Arts aims to “redistribute the sensible” from within the very histories, geographies, and institutional conditions of apartheid’s inheritance.

Through the association with DOCCTAH, the Factory of the Arts (supported through an artist-in-residence grant from National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences and an infrastructure grant from Cape Higher Education Consortium) and other collaborating partners, the programme on aesthetic education will focus its investigation on art, society and technology. Locating an arts project in areas where the potential of the arts have been severely eroded allows for possibilities to be reactivated.


The objectives of the Factory of the Arts are to:

  • Build relations between arts practitioners and scholars.
  • Create an enabling environment for the production of the arts
  • Nurture future generations of art practitioners
  • Research the history of community arts education
  • Develop new models for aesthetic education in the humanities
  • Offer accommodation (studio space), facilities and training in the arts to adults and learners in the higher grades of high school
  • Develop a platform for the invigoration of learning through the arts
  • Integrate intellectual endeavour and cultural production
  • Encourage and boost the study of the humanities


Build relations between arts practitioners and scholars.