At the heart of a township in Knysna (Western Cape), Mad about Art brings awareness to children and adults about health and environmental issues. Their strategy? Using art as a way to educate the 120 children that are coming each week, and also for adults who become more and more involved with this organization. An income generation programme started a few months ago is helping Mad about Art to become more financially sustainable. Interview with Phumeza Mdingi, manager of Mad about Art.
Why Mad about Art was created?
Phumeza Mdingi, manager of Mad about Art: It started in 2001 by Doctor Larry Guney from London. He was very concerned about the rate of HIV and AIDS which was too high, especially in Knysna (Western Cape). He decided to come here and start the awareness about it, so that people can be able to protect themselves from the virus. He started with 10 children, but it quickly grows until 120 kids a week due to the outreach work that they have been doing.
‘It started in 2001 by Doctor Larry Guney from London. He was very concerned about the rate of HIV and AIDS which was too high, especially in Knysna.’
Today, how does it work exactly?
We still use art as a tool to prevent HIV and AIDS, so that children can learn to communicate and share their thoughts. Nevertheless, our activities are broader than at the beginning 13 years ago. We have come up with other projects like the income generation, to become more financially independent.
So, we have art for sale, a garden, we sell clothes, we do tourism… This is the first time that we do something like that and it is very interesting!
‘We still use art as a tool to prevent HIV and AIDS, so that children can learn to communicate and share their thoughts. Nevertheless, our activities are broader than at the beginning 13 years ago.’
You also work with adults?
We also work with adults from the community, to motivate them to live a healthier lifestyle. We support them to grow their own food for example. It is essential for us to promote a healthy generation!
Art is the medium for the majority of the projects we are doing. We live art, we do art… we are Mad about Art! Art is very easy for the children to express themselves. Most of the kids don’t believe in talking, they prefer drawing to express their feelings.
‘We live art, we do art… we are Mad about Art!’
How do you see the positive results of Mad about Art?
When I became involved with Mad about Art in 2006, I was coming from the Eastern Cape. At that time I was dreaming to come back home one day and start my own organization. It is what we are doing now: replicating Mad about Art in Eastern Cape! It shows that our model is viable. Every day, we can see our positive impact on children, as they come to a place where people care about them.
Could you give three words to describe the spirit of Mad about Art?
‘Mad’ stands for ‘Make a difference’. That is our spirit, we just making a difference!
What is the biggest challenge for the organization?
The biggest challenge is funding at the moment. We have so much to offer but we are limited by the funding. The income generation programme helps us, slowly but surely! We want to touch all the people from the community! Another challenge is to motivate people to come to our events and start taking things serious.
‘We have so much to offer but we are limited by the funding.’
How do you see the evolution of your organization in the next 10 years?
In 10 years time I see a very big organization in a beautiful green environment… I see all the people coming in and out like in their home, they can rest and feel protected and secured… The project in Eastern Cape is running perfectly thanks to the money from the income generation in Kynsna… Mad about art is going to be the home for those who don’t have home.
Today, a lot of young South Africans want to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure to improve society. Could you give them a piece of advice?
Never give up in life! Wake up and start doing things with a positive mind.
‘Wake up and start doing things with a positive mind.’