In order to re-energise the humanities and social sciences, the South African government issued the Charter for the Humanities and Social Sciences in 2011, commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Training. Among other things, the Charter called for the establishment of a number of ‘catalytic projects’, one of which was awarded to the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). The catalytic project at the CHR, entitled ‘Hidden Voices in Art and Music’, took the form of an artist-in-residence programme involving cultural practitioners in the fields of curatorship, theatre and music. Outputs arising from this programme included exhibitions, an archival project focusing on accessioning, puppetry performances, a music concert, an opera based on liberation songs in the archive, a book, a play read at the Royal Court Theatre in London, workshops, a symposium on ‘Hidden Voices in the Arts and Music’, and a course in curatorship at UWC as part of the African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies (APMHS), run by Robben Island Museum and UWC.
Subsequent to issuing the Charter for the Humanities and Social Sciences of 2011, the South African government established the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) in 2014, aimed at advancing scholarship and research. NIHSS has continued to support CHR’s artist-in-residence programme.
Between 2011 and 2014, three cultural practitioners worked as artists-in-residence at the CHR – Emile Maurice, curator of ‘Uncontained: Opening the Community Arts Project Archive’ and ‘Interruptions: Posters from the Community Arts Project Archive’, Mongi Mthombeni and Neo Muyanga.