Given Sithandi is an artist and a single father who believes that Art, like Physical Education, is part of the empowerment and experience young children need.
Given argues that some young people who may not do well in the core curriculum may succeed if they try their hand at Art. While the arts industry can be lucrative, many parents still think that crafts are a domain for failures. Sithandi says his parents didn’t like the idea when he first went to train at places like the National Arts Gallery. However his mother later accepted his decision and became very supportive. Like many Zimbabweans, he wishes the country’s economy was in a better state but he has seen good days when there was an active market for art. It is against this background that Given feels educators, parents and other responsible parties should give children exposure to arts.
Given Sithandi’s efforts to promote Art for Children
Given also sees art as therapeutic and motivational. He has worked with a number of organizations, such as The Girl Child Network and SOS children’s village. In many cases he used painting sessions to comfort and inspire victims of abuse to dream again. He notes that while some schools offer art as a subject, there is little or no opportunity for children in high density suburbs to receive formal training in art and craft. Given is much concerned about the “ghetto youths” and wishes he could help in nurturing their talents. His main challenge is lack of resources.
At one point Given created pieces of art he intended to sell so that he could contribute to charity and to his cause; art for our children. This was in response to a contest that had been organized by a local company. Unfortunately he did not make it in time. The artist hasn’t given up yet. he is always looking for alternative ways to fund his projects. His vision is to establish at least one arts school for the children. Being as relentless as he is, Given is determined leverage his relationships in the arts circles to establish the art school even if he doesn’t get funding.
Ambition, Exposure and Parenting style
Even though Sithandi is a strong willed person, he is a gentle father. He says he would be happy if his children took after him but he will not choose careers for them. As a parent Given intends to just create opportunities for his children and also to nurture their talents. This parenting style is also apparent in his vision of art for our children. The artist’s initiative is aimed at widening the child’s career and lifestyle choice. He acknowledges the financial constraints but he understands that a society’s lack of ambition and exposure is even more limiting.
Given sees it as a role of mentors, instructors and parents to promote art.