> BRIDGES FOR MUSIC

CHANGING LIVES THROUGH CREATIVE EDUCATION AND MUSIC

It was nine years ago that, ignited by a recognition of the tremendous talent and the tremendous hardship that exists in South Africa’s township communities, Bridges for Music was launched as a dream of connecting the broader music industry with young creatives from underserved communities. Since then, the dream has been realised in a multitude of creative and inspiring ways!

From connecting communities with artists such as Ed Sheeran, Skrillex, Bonobo, Sho Madjozi, Zolani Mahola or Richie Hawtin in the form of educational workshops to the construction of the Bridges Academy, a forward-thinking creative school in the heart of Langa, the dream has grown beyond one of its founding members Thulani Headman (aka Fosta) dreams “At first we wanted to connect international artists with our communities, hosting workshops that could attract people from the city into the township to be able to collaborate and connect, leaving behind stigmas from the past. Then we started sponsoring local artists from the communities to perform with these artists at international festivals in the UK, Netherlands, Spain and many more… and now we are running an incredible school in Langa and we are looking at replicating the model in other townships. Sometimes I can´t believe what has happened over the past nine years.

Thulani Headman aka FOSTA, Founding Member and Operations Manager, Bridges for Music

The profound, and complex, challenges the youth faces have sadly not diminished in the intervening years; poverty, crime and violence, a severe dearth of employment and quality educational opportunities combined with highly compromised social support structures have left most young people from underserved communities deeply discouraged and with few opportunities to transcend the structural inequalities so effectively wrought under the apartheid regime on their parent’s generations. This is particularly true for those with more creative aptitudes.

In the words of Fosta “I’m the prime example of this reinforcing cycle in the townships, I got caught up in the wrong side of things when I was young and would like to save that to other young people who often end up doing the wrong things because they don’t know otherwise.

The building of the Bridges Academy in 2017 was a huge accomplishment, signaling the fulfilment of our vision to create a permanent space in Langa that could become a beacon of light and through which BFM could provide ongoing support for young people.

Today the Bridges Academy is standing firmly in Langa and has already seen hundreds of students benefiting from the various programs run on a yearly basis. Music remains central to the offerings at the Bridges Academy and indeed is why it has had such success in drawing young people in and keeping them engaged on the programs, but it is just one part of their offering. A focus on developing work readiness, an entrepreneurial mindset and mental and emotional resilience is foundational to what they do and the broader social impact.

Ex-students are now passing on their learnings to other young people in their communities; sharing the skills they have learnt, hosting meditations and healing circles, and thinking about how they could play a role in creating positive change in their own communities. That is the true ripple effect and impact that BFM is creating.

BRIDGES FOR MUSIC

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