18th National Eisteddfod Academy Young Performer Awards Competition

The dark Covid-19 pandemic cloud that has been hanging over the arts sector since March 2020 has not stopped the National Eisteddfod Academy (NEA) from pursuing its dream of making champions of our youth through sharing the Magic of the Arts.

With the belief that one should not ‘lock down’ youth development in the arts the NEA implemented new strategies to provide for eventualities arising from the prevailing lockdown. These strategies allowed the NEA to continue with the Young Performer Awards competition in 2021, albeit on smaller scale.

The competition was open to all amateur talented young performers that had continued their participation in music (classical and contemporary), dance and drama, and had excelled in the limited opportunities available during 2020; and to ease the ‘Covid-19 challenges’ the NEA permitted the adjudication of both live and video recorded performances for the first and second rounds.

And now the NEA’s 18th Young Performer Awards Competition has reached the closing stages of the 2021 competition. A total of 104 young artists and groups took to the Roodepoort Theatre’s stage on 4 and 6 May 2021 in four semi-final rounds that also included the semi-finalists of the 17th Young Performer Awards Competition that were cancelled as a result of the hard lockdown since March 2020.

The winners of these four categories will now compete for the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in the final round at the Roodepoort Theatre on Saturday 8 May.

Over the past 24 years the NEA, with the support of various sponsors and communities has had a significant impact on youth development in the arts in various communities. Since 2001 its annual national eisteddfod activities in various rural and urban regions attracted in excess of 230 000 entries, involving more than 539 000 participants as well as an estimated 800 000 family members and other supporters. For many participants, these events have been a springboard to future achievements – past winners and participants that have gone on to excel on the professional stage include Henno William -a 2015 Silver medallist and SA’s Got Talent 2015 finalist who was signed by a New York-based music executive; Julian Hepburn -also a finalist in SA’s Got Talent; top achievers in Ballet -Andile Ndlovu and Camille Bracher forged international careers (Ndlovu with the Washington Ballet and Bracher, the Royal Ballet Company); the young pianist, Iman Bulbulia, performed internationally and at the prestigious Carnegie Hall; Carmen Pretorius, now an established musical theatre and TV star in the entertainment industry with leading roles in Mamma Mia, Cinderella, Jersey Boys, and most recently Chicago and the actor Cantona James – winner of the 2015 Young Performer Awards (drama), he Best Upcoming Artists Award (2019 Woordfees) and nominated as Best Newcomer in the Royalty Soapie Awards 2020.

Ismail Mahomed, a judge at the 2013 Awards, former National Arts Festival director and CEO of the Market Theatre Foundation, now Director at the Centre for Creative Arts: University of KZN, remarked, “If the NEA Award-winners represent the next generation of artists, I am filled with great hope for the creative industries.”

Only a limited number of tickets are available for the semi and final rounds. The entrance fee is R100 for adults and R60 for children. Seating is unreserved.

For bookings please contact the National Eisteddfod Academy – 011 886 6005 or visit the website