#wineforgood: Distell backs the arts

Friday, 26 April, 2019
"I believe that creativity will be the currency of the 21st century."  - Gerald Gordon, economist and author. The creative and performing arts are often overlooked, deemed as a hobby with little support to young and upcoming individuals with a passion to make a career out of it. Distell is supporting this important category with sponsorships celebrating rising storytellers and theatre stars.

Winemaking has often been compared to a form of art and so it is not unusual for Distell, Africa's leading producer of fine wines, spirits and ciders to recognize the importance of creativity and reward it.

By joining forces, the National Arts Festival and Distell, and their various stakeholders made it their mission to celebrate rising storytellers. The Distell National Playwright Competition is an opportunity for debut playwrights to showcase their work at the main stage of the lauded National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

This year, the competition received a record-breaking number of entries – with an abundant 164 powerful stories that promote inclusivity and diversity. All 11 official languages were represented – allowing narratives to be told with the kind of authenticity that only a mother tongue allows.

The 2019 Distell National Playwright Competition winner is the award-winning poet and theatre practitioner, Koleka Putuma who took the South African literary scene by storm with her debut collection of poems, called Collective Amnesia, in April 2017. Among all the words of celebration and elation, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa took to Twitter to congratulate the award-winning creative.

Koleka Putuma, winner of the 2019 Distell National Playwright Competition

Koleka wins R25 000 in prize money — as well as the opportunity to take her winning play No Easter For Queers into full production to be staged as part of the Main programme at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda, which runs from 27 June to 7 July.

On winning the award, Putuma says, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share this work on such a huge platform, and to be backed by Distell and the National Arts Festival means a great deal. I have never showcased my own work at the National Arts Festival, let alone on the main stage. So the idea of that makes me want scream. I am nervous and excited at the same. This story is important to me, and I feel incredibly privileged that the adjudication panel felt that it was important to share this story with others and to give it life beyond the page.”

Fleur du Cap, one of South Africa's premier and best-known wines is a flagship brand in the Distell group, has been supporting the South African theatre industry for more than five decades. The Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards are sponsored by the Fleur du Cap wine brand and honours excellence in theatre. 

Winners are chosen from productions performed at professional theatre venues in and around Cape Town. Theatre practitioners are recognised for their acting, directing, staging and technical abilities with category winners receiving R15 000 and a silver medallion.

The judging process for 2018 was chaired by non-voting chairperson, Melanie Burke, and the judges for the 2018 productions were Africa Melane, Dr Beverley Brommert, Eugene Yiga, Lwando Scott, Marina Griebenow, Maurice Carpede, Peggy Mongoato, Tracey Saunders and Dr Wayne Muller. Voting is done by secret ballot, and all processes are strictly overseen and audited by Distell Internal Audit and the legal firm Cluver Markotter Inc. A total of 87 diverse productions from the year under review were eligible for consideration. The awards, considered in 26 different categories, include an Award for Lifetime Achievement, which went to Saul Radomsky, and the Award for Innovation in Theatre which was handed to the Theatre Arts Admin Collective. These special awards were presented by the legendary David Kramer and trail-blazer Amy Jephta respectively.



There are plenty of good news stories about upliftment and transformation in the South African Wine Industry. This #wineforgood website, launched by wine.co.za in June 2016, hosts all the positive stories from the winelands, of which there are plenty. wine.co.za has made April a focus for #wineforgood stories, being Freedom Month, as South Africa celebrates 25 years of democracy.
Please share your stories with us and share these stories with the rest of the world.
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