Standard Bank Young Artist Awards announce 2020 winners

Jefferson Tshabalala, Sisonke Xonti, Lulu Mlangeni, Blessing Ngobeni and Nthato Mokgata.

South Africa – The Standard Bank Young Artist Awards announced the recipients of the prestigious ‘young artist of the year’ title yesterday.

The awards, which are in their 38th edition, are presented by the National Arts Festival and Standard Bank to deserving young South African artists.

The 2020 winners were selected by the National Arts Festival committee in the music, jazz, dance, theatre and visual art categories. Each winner will receive a cash prize, development support and a commission to premiere their new works at the 2020 edition of the National Arts Festival in Makhanda, South Africa.

The winners are Nthato Mokgata (aka Spoek Mathambo, music), Sisonke Xonti (jazz), Lulu Mlangeni (dance), Jefferson Tshabalala (theatre) and Blessing Ngobeni (visual art).

“On behalf of the festival we congratulate the 2020 SBYAs [Standard Bank Young Artists], they are all deserving artists whose body of work speaks for itself,” National Arts Festival associate producer Nobesuthu Rayi said.

“I have noticed with interest that all these artists are aware of the status quo of our arts industry in SA and they have strong opinions on the matter. To all the 2020 SBYAs, gqamani njenge enkwenkwezi enizizo [shine like the stars that you are].”

Festival artistic committee chairperson Brett Bailey commented on the significance of the awards: “They give a highly visible platform to the winners to showcase their work and to lift them from their crowded field and provide the funding to generate something new.”

Standard Bank has sponsored the awards since 1984 and presented an opportunity for the bank to nurture platforms and artists who give rise to the South African creative economy.

“The curatorial committee looks for artists who have already proven themselves with a track record of work of high artistic quality; artists who have a strong vision and who are not constrained to the commercial mainstream,” Standard Bank head of group sponsorships Desiree Pooe said.

“It is a great honour for us to be associated with nurturing the careers of these brilliant young minds, as we strive to support South Africa’s creative economy by helping them build sustainable livelihoods while staying true to their artistic muses.”

Previous recipients of the award include the late Johnny Clegg (1989), Sibongile Khumalo (1993) and more recently Kyle Shepherd (2014), Nduduzo Makhathini (2015), Thandi Ntuli (2018) and Mandla Mlangeni (2019).


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