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Founded in 2019 by Theatre Practitioner, writer and poet, Koleka Putuma, Manyano Media is a multidisciplinary creative company established to create employment and development opportunities, as well as platforms for independent poets, playwrights, theatre directors, set designers, costume designers, lighting technicians and editors in South Africa who identify as black, queer and woman.

In 2020, Manyano Media created a relief fund to assist a number of black, queer women theatre practitioners and poets with subsistence grants during COVID-19. The relief fund has now been further developed into the [BLACK GIRL LIVE] fellowship. The first three to five years after graduation are the most challenging economically. It is difficult to find or create employment in most sectors, but more so in the arts, as infrastructures either lack resources or development opportunities. Through the [BLACK GIRL LIVE] fellowship, Manyano Media identified a need for an accelerator and mentorship programme that bridges the gap between graduation and the industry with regards to practical business and entrepreneurial skills, one that will empower black and queer women storytellers specifically.

The fellowship is designed to provide fellows with resources, networks, a platform to launch their career and learn the ropes of the industry whilst being mentored by practising industry professionals. Currently, Manyano Media has created and is running a three month mentorship programme where two young professionals between the ages of 18 and 35 are paired with industry experts under the direction of Koleka Putuma. The programme takes a practical approach to upskilling mentees with entrepreneurial and artistic skills that will advance and elevate their practices and give them tools to create networks and a sustainable career in the arts.

Woven into the ethos and value of the company is the importance of creative entrepreneurship, IP and ownership. Beyond owning, producing and telling your story, Manyano Media uses programmes like the [BLACK GIRL LIVE] fellowship to foster conversations around the value of intellectual property and how being knowledgeable on aspects and practical details of entrepreneurship, IP and ownership are currencies of empowerment, too.

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