The youth make music

The youth make music

The Cullinan Field Band was established in 2004 as a community youth show band based on the historic presence of brass music in South African communities. The Cullinan Field Band is part of a larger national initiative, the Field Band Foundation (FBF), which comprises 19 field bands with 4,250 members from 76 townships and 214 schools around South Africa.

The Cullinan mine plays a strategic stakeholder engagement role, holding monthly meetings with the field band co-coordinator to discuss the band’s activities, programmes and development; and liaises with the FBF’s Chief Executive Officer, Retha Celliers, on the Cullinan Field Band’s activities. Cullinan sponsored transport for the band to perform at various functions during FY2010, as well as sponsoring 120 golf shirts for band members. The mine provides security for the Cullinan Field Band’s truck and instruments on the Cullinan premises. Although the project is sponsored by De Beers until 2011, Petra’s involvement is set to increase after this as the Company plans to take over the sponsorship.

2010 was a very special year for the FBF, as it was invited to be part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup opening and closing ceremonies. A total of 371 FBF members participated in the opening ceremony, a 60-member band lead the cast procession to Soccer City and performed at the stadium while another 240 FBF members took part in the closing ceremony. Of these, 65 members were selected from the Cullinan Field Band. This was a wonderful and exciting opportunity for these young learners, who are all able to say ‘I was there’!

The foundation’s objective is to create opportunities for the development of life skills through music and dance. The discipline and focus that they learn through being a part of a band provides essential life skills for their future. The FBF brings this opportunity to a myriad of young people from disadvantaged communities with limited youth educational activities, and envisions having 6,000 youth on the project by 2012.

FBF members from across South Africa work together at performances, workshops and competitions and, through this interaction, learn understanding and respect for other cultures. Exchange programmes with Norway, Flanders and the United States of America, as well as bursaries, provide these youths with opportunities to visit other countries, learn new skills and broaden their perspectives. The FBF takes part in a large variety of performances, ranging from embassy parties to local weddings across South Africa.

A main focal point of the life skills programme is comprehensive HIV/AIDS education. HIV workshops are held, during which tests are carried out on volunteers. The HIV programme has a social arm - Children in Distress - that provides clothes and other essentials to FBF members registered on it. The FBF has to date identified and enrolled 72 members on this programme countrywide.

The FBF also addresses poverty reduction. The average age of an FBF member is 15 years and 59% of them have unemployed parents. Another 67% live with single parents, grandparents or guardians, while approximately 2% are from child-headed households. A total of 92% of the FBF youth had not had access to music or arts education prior to joining the programme.

The FBF has also received additional funding from the Swedish Embassy to increase the impact of its HIV/AIDS life skills programme by implementing it in all areas of operation.