About the Standard Bank Young Artists

The Standard Bank Young Artist Awards are presented by the National Arts Festival Committee to emerging, relatively young South African artists who have demonstrated exceptional ability in their chosen fields but who have not yet achieved national exposure and acclaim.

Artists are nominated by members of the Festival Artistic Committee, fellow artists as well as by interested members of the public. The Artistic Committee, comprising established professionals from the various arts disciplines, decides on the final recipients.

Designed to encourage the recipients in the pursuit of their careers, a key aspect of the awards is that they guarantee the winning artists a place on the Main programme of the following year’s National Arts Festival.

Apart from a cash prize, each of the winners receive substantial financial backing for their Festival participation, whether this is the mounting of an exhibition or the staging of a production.

A maximum of six awards are made annually in any one of the disciplines of drama, music, jazz, visual art, performance art, dance and film. Since the inception of the awards in 1981, more than 150 awards have been presented as well as five special awards to artists in recognition of their contribution to the National Arts Festival and the arts of South Africa.

The Standard Bank Young Artists for 2020 are:

Blessing Ngobeni (Visual Art), Lulu Mlangeni (Dance), Jefferson Tshabalala (Theatre), Sisonke Xonti (Jazz) and Nthato Mokgata – also known by his stage name Spoek Mathambo (Music).

How are winners selected?

Adjudication of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award is an internal discretionary process by members of the Festival’s Artistic Committee. However, members of the public are also welcome to put forward their nominations.

Nominations can be done by email and should include a written motivation, as well as an up-to-date CV of the candidate and relevant contact details.

Completed nominations should be sent to the Artistic Committee via [email protected] by no later than 31 March for consideration for the following year – ie nominations or updated nominations would be for the year following, or, in some instances, the year after that as some winners are decided two years in advance.

Who are previous winners of the SBYA award?

Standard Bank Young Artist alumni often go on to achieve extraordinary and successful careers in the arts, creating work the contributes meaningfully to important national topics and challenging the status quo. Fêted on the world’s stages and screens, in international galleries and concert halls, many are still actively working in – and enriching – South Africa’s creative economy. 

2020 Winners





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