Funda Community College was founded in 1984 in Soweto, Gauteng with the support of private sector funding and built on land which was donated by the Urban Foundation and IBM. The centre was initially directed by art educator and activist Steven Sack. Charles Nkosi, who studied at Rorke's Drift and taught at the Open School, has been teaching painting and drawing at Funda since 1986 and is currently the director. When Rorke’s Drift art centre in KwaZulu-Natal closed its doors in the early 1980s, Funda was one of the very few places for Black students who had a desire to study and engage with artistic resources.
Funda was built to provide a source of arts education in the aftermath of the student uprisings of 1976. The majority of young people in Soweto were not attending school as a result. The youth were either joining the liberation movement, ended up in jail or both. The 1980s left very few options for high school students who refused to take part in Bantu education and who were left with little alternative. In the beginning the College had a workshop based programme and offered training in theatre, visual art and music, with prominent artists like Bill Ainsley conducting the courses. The late Dr. Es’kia Mphahlele was active with FUNDA and built links between Funda and the University of the Witwatersrand. The College also worked with UNISA. Both of these ties provided aspiring artists with the opportunity to receive recognised qualifications.
The initial sources of private donations, which had supported organisations providing alternative educational opportunities under the oppressive apartheid government, are no longer a viable source of funding. Instead, Section 21 non-profits receive limited government funding. Funda also receives a small amount of funding for bursaries from the National Arts Council. This funding, however, is extremely inadequate and as a result the school has had no electricity since 2009. It now only offers courses in visual art, has only 12 full-time students and four teachers (including Nkosi). Other community groups have tried to take over the premises and a great deal has been stolen, including most of the centre’s musical instruments.
Despite the massive economic strain due to the lack of funding, Funda’s reputation and dedicated team still functions as a reputable site of access and network into the visual arts sector for young Black South African artists.