Generous endowment boosts UCT Opera

18 Mar 2016 - 14:30

Generous benefactor: Dr Haruhisa Handa's donation of US$500,000 to the UCT Opera School allows the school to meet the fundraising challenge set by the Mellon Foundation ahead of schedule.

The future of the UCT Opera School looks very bright thanks to a big donation of US$500,000 made by international businessman and philanthropist Dr. Haruhisa Handa. The chairman and founder of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture joined University of Cape Town Vice-Chancellor Dr. Max Price and 200 invited guests at the launch of the IFAC-Handa UCT Opera Endowment Fund held on 28 January 2016 in Cape Town.

The International Foundation for Arts and Culture (IFAC) is a non-profit organisation established by Dr. Handa in 1996 to promote the arts and cultural legacy activities around the world. IFAC, which enjoys a membership of more than 2000 individual and corporate entities, has a particular focus on supporting gifted, young artists and uses art and music to unite cultures. The generous donation will enable the UCT Opera School to meet the fundraising challenge set by the Mellon Challenge Grant and as Dr. Price announced on the evening, will be combined with Mellon’s matching grant as well as other donations to establish a permanent Opera Endowment Fund at UCT. This fund will be used to support opera bursaries, ongoing productions, professional staff as well as travel to international singing competitions. 

Pictured L-R: Dr Handa, who is a trained opera singer himself, joined students from the SACM in a spirited performance.Photos appear courtesy UCT Development and Alumni Department.

Students from the South African College of Music provided the evening’s entertainment with Maudee Montierre, Goitsemang Lehobye, Makudupanyane Senaoana, Thando Mjandana, Martin Mkhize and Kabelo Lebyane (accompanied by Dr. Lisa Engelbrecht) receiving a standing ovation for their performance. Dr Handa, who is a trained opera singer himself, surprised the audience with several impromptu performances of his own.

Speaking at the event, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities Professor Sakhela Buhlungu reiterated the Vice Chancellors message of appreciation to Dr Handa for the significant monetary contribution he has made to the university’s Performing Arts. Professor Buhlungu extended a special acknowledgment to Dr. Saunders, the former director of the Mellon Foundation, for planting the seeds for the opera endowment, which has now come to fruition. The Dean also thanked the university’s Development and Alumni Department for their work in supporting faculty fundraising initiatives.