The Soweto Performing Arts Centre (SPAC) is a pre-eminent and vibrant community-based institution dedicated to the development and advancement of the performing and visual arts in historically under-resourced communities. In Focus spoke to Basil Dube, CEO of SPAC, about the organisation, its formation, aims and activities.

"Essentially, we aim to provide professional training and development to young and talented people in the fields of theatre, dance, music, screenwriting, filmmaking and arts management; to create job opportunities through training and production as well as to promote Soweto as a world heritage centre and home of performing arts," explains Dube.

SPAC is currently conducting information workshops in various regions of the Gauteng province. "The main aim of these workshops is to create awareness about the centre and to promote its courses and programmes. We will also be launching a production house this year (2010) as an initiative to sustain our programmes and the centre. The production house, which will be headed by Mbongeni Ngema and myself, will produce a series of musicals and film projects. We will also be recording artists from Soweto as part of promoting the centre."

Dube is positive about the local film industry: "The industry is experiencing positive growth and development, despite the current economic and political challenges. It is imperative for the new SABC board to start engaging and reviewing its relationship between television producers. Issues of intellectual property (IP) and transformation should be top of their agenda. A vibrant and viable industry can only thrive through collective participation of stakeholders."

One of SPAC's more ambitious goals is to propose a film hub. "As FIFA is in the process of setting up its International Media Centre in NASREC, near Soweto (a facility that will be donated to the City of Johannesburg after the World Cup), we have submitted a proposal to the City for the development of a Film Studio and Academy. This will be the first step towards establishing NASREC as South Africa's premier Film City. We will be submitting our proposal to SAFA and FIFA in the next few weeks," says Dube.

On the formation of SPAC, he explains that it started as a screenwriting training project in 2006. "Between 2006 and 2008, I had recruited about 300 aspirant film and television writers who were then trained by Duma Ka Ndlovu, director and producer of Muvhango. The project was based at the University of Johannesburg - Soweto campus. I later recruited internationally acclaimed playwright and director, Selaelo Maredi, to join Duma as facilitators."

Dube continues: "When I met Mbongeni Ngema in 2009, there were a lot of young people from Soweto who were interested in the performing arts. We then decided to transform the writers' project into a centre for performing arts and launched it in November 2009. Although based in Soweto, the centre will accommodate students from all six regions of Gauteng. Our future plan is to launch a bursary fund to support learners.

"Partners of SPAC are the National School of the Arts, Committed Artists and The Soweto Events and Festivals Consortium (SEFCON). We are very positive about the future and believe we have the talent to showcase our best to the world," concludes Dube.