File photo: Jonas Gwangwa.

Four highly regarded veterans have received Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) Lifetime Achievement awards for their contribution to the arts: author Nadine Gordimer for the newly inaugurated literature award, Welcome Msomi for theatre, Andrew Verster for visual arts and Jonas Gwangwa (pictured) for music.

The awards honour arts professionals whose extra-ordinary careers have had a profound and lasting impact on arts, culture and heritage.

Gordimer, an outspoken critic of apartheid and one of the leading novelists of her age, received the inaugural ACT Lifetime Achievement award for literature. Msomi is the founder and director of the iZulu Dance Theatre and Music Company established in 1965 in Durban. He has won international acclaim as a playwright, choreographer and director.

Verster boasts a career that spans many decades. His imagination has touched people through his short stories, articles and radio plays, but his most significant contribution is to South African visual arts through his body of work spread over more than 50 innovative solo exhibitions.

Gwangwa, a Soweto-born product of the turbulent but musically significant 1950s, electrified the Sophiatown music scene. With his contemporaries Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba and Caiphus Semenya, he is one of South Africa’s living legends.

Also presented at this cultural event are the ImpACT Awards for Young Professionals, inaugurated in 2010 and sponsored by Distell, honouring young professional artists whose work has made an impact within the first three years of their careers.

The awards were made to Phillip Dikotla for theatre; The Muffinz in the music and singing category; Bambo Sibiya for visual arts; and Ozlo, South Africa, for design.

Dikotla, 22, is a performance artist, poet, comedian and writer who graduated from the Market Theatre Laboratory in 2010.

He develops plays in workshop environments, writes, performs and is a founding member of Arch Entertainment.

His passion for stand-up comedy and improvisation has landed him appearances on Gare Dumeli (SABC2) and Tshisa III (SABC1).

The Muffinz, an eclectic soul group, were formed in 2010 when Mthabisi Sibanda, Simphiwe Kulla and Sifiso Buthelezi met while singing in the UJ Choir. Karabo Moeketsi and Gregory Mabusela joined them last year.

The Muffinz then secured a recording contract with the independent record label Just Music and released the 11-track aural adventure Have You Heard? which was successfully launched in May.

Visual artist Bambo Sibiya was born and raised in Springs (Kwa-Thema). He completed his fine art studies at the Benoni Technical College and the Artist Proof Studio. He has since participated in several art exhibitions, including the Artist Proof Studio Art Exhibition (2009), 30 Art Works, Springs Art Gallery and a Spier art exhibition.

He was a finalist in the Absa L’Atelier competition, received a merit award at the Ekurhuleni Art Awards (2010) and recently made his international exhibition debut in a show held in Abu Dhabi.

Ozlo South Africa is the fashion label created by 26-year-old Jabu Mdluli of the East Rand who studied graphic design at The Open Window School of Visual Communication.

At the beginning of this year, Mdluli opened an Ozlo Clothing Store in the Maboneng Precinct. This proudly South African clothing store specialises in local brands and designers with vintage collections and interesting furniture.

The 2012 ACT Awards was sponsored by the Vodacom Foundation, Samro, Dalro and Media24 Books. Supporters of the awards included: Distell Foundation; Classicfeel Magazine; Business and Arts South Africa and The Fairway Hotel and Golf Resort.

The Arts & Culture Trust is South Africa’s premier independent arts and culture funding and development agency.

This awards event, which is now celebrating 15 years since its inception, has recognised more than 350 individuals and organisations that have made significant contributions to cultural life in South Africa. – Tonight Reporter

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