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The Lalela Centre of Arts and Innovation opened its doors in Joburg’s Maboneng Precinct on 1 November, ELLE caught up with founder and CEO Andrea Kerzner to find out more


Take us through the Lalela Centre of Arts and Innovation?

Jonathan Liebmann of Maboneng Propertuity offered us the space rent-free, thus enabling us to bring our arts education programme to inner city kids in Johannesburg. Our role in arts education is not to churn out artists; it is to help blaze the trail in whole-brain thinking with a proven path to innovation and new job creation. With strong partners and the power of the arts, we can transform lives and create permanent change for the youth of inner city Johannesburg.

Why did you pick that area specifically?

The Maboneng Precinct development with its unique mix of the arts and commerce represented an ideal centralised environment for Lalela (in partnership with Maboneng Propertuity) to introduce its innovative educational arts to at-risk-youth in the inner city of Johannesburg. Having establishing Lalela Centres of Arts and Innovation in Cape Town, KwaZulu-Natal and Hope North Uganda, we’re proud and excited to be launching in Johannesburg.

How many children can the centre accommodate, and how many teachers do you have?

Having opened our doors during the June/July school holidays, we currently have 145 children attending weekly and growing daily. We have two young art facilitators, both who grew up in the inner city of Johannesburg.

Have you managed to secure high profile support for the Maboneng centre?

In the period since opening our doors during the July school vacation, we’ve enjoyed a very positive buy-in from the Johannesburg art and business community, including collaborative projects with the likes of artist and fellow Maboneng resident Stephen Hobbs from the Trinity Session and British graffiti artist, Boyd Hill.

How did the Lalela initiative come to South Africa?

We officially brought Lalela to Cape Town in July 2010, during the World Cup. This was a particularly vulnerable time for at-risk learners who were out of school for six weeks. We started our programme in partnership with the South African National Gallery (SANG) to provide arts education for youth from disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape. We continued to connect the positive power of the arts to character development and academic achievement. Lalela Project Trust was registered as a non-profit organisation in South Africa in October 2010.

What is it about art that resonates with children?

Art crosses all language and cultural barriers. It is a fun way to learn, as there is no right or wrong in art. This encourages persistence in learning, which in turn helps in developing a child’s grit and self-confidence. Lalela's arts curriculum and critical messaging component ignites the imagination allowing children to map and manifest a positive future.

How can South Africans assist?

We believe that everyone can make a difference and all it takes is engagement. Visit, explore our stories, purchase our beautiful scarves. We also have corporate partner programs that align with corporate social responsibility to help achieve many of the UN sustainable development goals. We always enjoy having qualified volunteers as well as visiting artists and innovators.

For more info on Lalela Project, @lalelaproject, follow the conversation to support the arts through #ArtisPower, #Lalela, #TheLalelaScarf


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