Published February 25, 2021
Earlier this year, Lekgetho Makola was appointed the new CEO of the Javett-UP Arts Centre. Lekgetho joins Javett-UP from the Market Photo Workshop and has many years’ experience in arts administration.
Lekgetho was the first African in over 60 years to chair the World Press Photo Awards General Jury in 2020 and served on the Art Bank of South Africa Acquisition Committee in 2018 and 2019. His artistic philosophy is embedded in social justice and advocacy as an International Ford Foundation Fellow – Social Justice. Under his leadership, the Market Photo Workshop won the Principal Prince Claus Award in 2018.
He was born in GaSekhukhune, Limpopo in 1974. He studied fine arts at the Durban Institute of Technology and completed an MFA degree at Howard University in Washington, DC.
We sat down with Lekgetho to find out more about what makes him tick.
What are you most excited about in this role?
Leading a world class creative team towards re-imagining the role of arts in our Continent .
What prompted you to consider fine arts and film as a career?
The power to impact perceptions and shift mindsets through visual storytelling and representation.
I’m curious to know if you had any formative experiences about art in your childhood. Was there a teacher or another mentor who encouraged your interest?
I always loved drawing especially in biology class as a kid. I would draw the best fish or frog, and offer my services to my classmates. I was known for that in lower primary level. High school became more serious as I also ended up taking extra mural art sessions. I was contributing to our school magazine, Leading to the Future, with my graphic and cartoon drawings. Our headmaster Peter Anderson who encouraged this artistic bent, informed my father about this talent and advised him to consider supporting it as a possible career to pursue.
On a related note, what is your first or most meaningful memory of making art?
Winning a commission to design and build a bronze sculpture for President Nelson Mandela in 1999 when he was conferred the Freedom of the City of Durban.
What would you name as the top three issues facing the arts community?
Depression, change agenda, and opportunity.
How do you think the role of the arts is changing as a result of the pandemic and related economic hardship?
The role of the arts is not changing but it needs to be emphasised and appreciated more in times of human hardships and opportunities.
How have local institutions such as the Javett-UP been impacted?
They have received fewer visitors but at the same time they are compelled to discover new opportunities in the virtual platforms.
Can you tell us a little bit about your plans for Javett-UP?
Javett-UP will become a home for diverse communities of Tshwane and surrounding geography through dynamic, innovative and interactive artistic public engagement programming that has a significant network and intellectual cultural inspiration across our continent of Africa. It will become a truly reflective mediation space that impacts perceptions and brings about mind shifts.
This will be achieved through designing critical exhibition programmes and collaborative public engagement programmes that raises interest and participation from communities in and around Pretoria first, and then translates these experiences and their values through virtual platforms to the rest of the region and the world.
We will develop and roll out education programmes in partnership with education centres across Tshwane. We’re looking to establish continental networks and collaborations to expand our understanding and acknowledgement of the sophisticated arts and culture the continent and diaspora have to offer. We are also looking at ways to turn the physical spaces in the Javett-UP premises into a public market for the arts and sub-cultures to experience and value this layered city and its surroundings.
What inspires you?
The optimism of the people of South Africa with both challenges and opportunities in their lived experiences
What does creativity mean to you?
Continually re-imagining futures
· Morning or evening person? Evening
· How do you take your coffee? No sugar
· Favourite sandwich? Peanut butter and cranberry jam