Bethesda Arts Centre

Centre for Arts education and health

Perspective - Unemployment in South Africa
South Africa's rate of unemployment is often cited as on of the highest in the world. Its income distribution is amongst the most unequal in the world. The wealthiest South Africans continue to be white urban dwellers and the poorest tend to be black, rural dwellers. At the bottom of the pile are found the San/Bushmen people.

Before the Bethesda Arts Centre came into being, the local people lived in poverty and despair. But today Bethesda brings employment and dignity to the BethesdaSan/Bushmen. In this area of the Eastern Cape, some of the poorest in South Africa struggle against alcoholism, abuse, and lack of self-esteem.


Because of the Bethesda Arts Centre’s growing opportunities through teaching, training, education, workshops, empowerment and income-generating programmes, a dramatic change is taking place. Disadvantaged people are growing in talent, ability and self esteem. Participants sell their work in the gallery attached to the Centre, bringing much needed income into one of the poorest areas of the country. Grants from Thembisa have enabled the Centre to employ staff in the gallery – an essential outlet for the artwork. Liena Johnson, who was the first warden of the gallery, puts it like this:

“We were just sitting in the sun with nothing to do. Now we can say we have a history. When we look at the mountains, we notice that they are beautiful, and say, we are artists! The Arts Centre has changed our lives.”



Today stunning work is being produced. 

For more information and to purchase artworks go to