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, methodologies and assemblages which link the arts and humanities.
The Factory of the Arts is an experiment that seeks to activate new possibilities of engagement with artists, scholars, arts education practice, public and communities as well as next generation artists and scholars to explore, conceive and creatively re-imagine transformation in a post-apartheid society at the current global conjuncture. The project seeks to develop a model for thinking about making in the humanities and about the humanities as textural disciplines to constellate communities of scholars and artists across disciplines, public performances, debates and spatial arrangements of the city.
Since 2016, the Factory of the Arts has convened monthly artists’ forums which gather artists in residence, next-generation artists, graduate students, faculty, guest artists and visiting scholars and consist of structured reading sessions, critical conversations on the arts and on shared works or excerpts of works, workshops on sensory and aesthetic cross-overs, African repertoires of masquerade and guest artist talks. These talks have included visiting artists from Colombia, the USA, Canada, Mozambique, Nigeria and the UK. In 2017, the Factory of the Arts inaugurated an ongoing series of public dialogues with jazz musicians and artists called, Conversations. Filmed and recorded as part of the CHR’s digital archives on the arts, the series hosts iconic figures in facilitated public conversations with artists to think about their work, art and influences affirming the necessity of engaging the significance of the arts for reshaping the ways in which we perceive the world. The Factory of the Arts has convened a series of masterclasses in voice, movement and improvisation for artists in residence as well as next-generation artists from across the city. The masterclasses, offered by nationally renowned teachers in these areas of practice, are intended to provide opportunities for artists in residence to develop and deepen the areas of technical proficiency necessary for extending artistic practice.