The African Art Centre is a non-profit organisation based in KwaZulu-Natal. Founded in 1959, it was under the leadership of Jo Thorpe for the first 30 years of its existence, and since has been directed by Sharon Crampton.

The facility offers development and training programmes to visual artists and crafters in and around the KwaZulu-Natal province. It originated as a project of the South African Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR) but became an autonomous non-profit organisation in 1984.

The centre offers support to 500 crafters and represents about 50 artists. Initiated in 1994, Velobala, is the centre’s outreach programme, which began as an occasional Saturday art class  but has hence developed into a fuller programme, where students have the opportunity to learn Fine Art, Jewellery Design, and print making.

Today the centre operates from the premises in Florida Road, Durban.

It is the longest surviving South African organisation that was involved in the development and promotion of Black artists.

African Art Centre artists that have achieved acclaim include Azaria Mbatha, Tito Zungu and Reuben Ndwandwe, among the many others who have benefitted from the centre.

The centre has hosted the artists of the year award since 2003 which is a prize that gives financial backing to artists to help them in their art practice.

Collections in the Archives