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JOHANNESBURG – The 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winners are “a group of diversely unique individuals with distinctive artistic voices, who that are bringing a fresh edge to their respective disciplines,” said National Arts Festival Committee Chairman Jay Pather at the announcement of the winners of the prestigious award in Johannesburg last night, hosted by Standard Bank.

The winners of the 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Awards, are:

Nandipha Mntambo for Visual Art
Ben Schoeman for Music
Neil Coppen for Theatre
Bokani Dyer for Jazz
Mamela Nyamza for Dance

These awards, acknowledged as one of the most prestigious of their kind, honour young South African artists on the brink of national acclaim by providing them with financial support and a platform for experimentation at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

“Based on artistic excellence, accomplishment to date, and the promise of future achievement, the winners of the 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Awards are five remarkable individuals who are on top of their game. Their creativity, talent and fortitude is making a significant contribution to the cultural vibrancy of our country,” said National Arts Festival Director, Ismail Mahomed.

The winners are also given various opportunities to represent South Africa on international stages as a result of their association with the award.

Mandie van der Spuy, Standard Bank Head of Arts and Jazz Sponsorship said, “As a bank we are committed to nurturing arts talent in South Africa, and we believe that the awards play a vital role in advancing the artists’ careers as well as our country’s cultural heritage. We are proud of the results that this award has delivered over the past 27 years as it forms a central part of Standard Bank’s committed role in developing upcoming South African talent.”

As part of their prize, each of the winners will be featured at the 2011 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown (30 June – 10 July 2011) on the Main programme, where they will be given the opportunity to develop and premiè;re novel pieces of work.

“I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to Standard Bank for their loyal and continued support of the arts, and in particular their great investment towards this award,” said this year’s winner for Music, pianist Ben Schoeman.

“It’s such a great feeling to be recognised in your country,” said 2011 Dance winner, Mamela Nyamza. “Thanks to Standard Bank and this award I can now travel the world with confidence and carry the flag with me everywhere I go, hoping that I will make my country proud for this recognition,” she added.

“Winning this award is wonderful,” said Nandipha Mntambo, 2011 winner for Visual Art. “At this stage of my career it is a great affirmation of my achievements within my art practice.”

“Ismail Mahomed and the National Arts Festival team have taken risks to allow emerging theatre makers like myself to be seen on a national platform, and I cannot thank them enough for the exposure, encouragement and support,” said 2011 winner for Theatre, Neil Coppen. “I am in awe of the many talents, on stage and off, who I have had the fortune of collaborating with over the years. This award would not be possible without their considerable inputs and I share it with dozens of artists, collaborators and friends who make what I do possible.”

“The Standard Bank Young Artist Award is a blessing. Being recognized as someone doing something worthwhile is encouraging,” said this year’s Jazz winner, Bokani Dyer. “I look at the previous winners of this award who are all musicians who I admire and respect, so to be a winner of this award is a great honour.”

Previous winners of this award include William Kentridge, Sibongile Khumalo, Johnny Clegg, Andrew Buckland, Sibongile Mngoma, Janice Honeyman, Sam Nhlengethwa, Richard Grant and various other nationally and internationally acclaimed South African arts icons. “In its 27th year of sponsoring this prestigious award, Standard Bank enables the National Arts Festival to offer each of these artists a golden opportunity to create something special for Festival audiences the opportunity and the incentive to be showcased on the Festival’s Main programme. In this way, the Festival encourages these outstanding individuals to continue with their high level of practice as contemporary South Africa artists and, at the same time, to continue to inspire other artists of their own generation,” Mahomed added.

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