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Artists for Africa pays it forward to African communities

Artists for Africa hosted its ninth annual showcase to support arts education in Africa.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Artists for Africa hosted its ninth annual showcase Wednesday to support arts education in Africa. The proceeds from the event will go toward visual arts, ballet, music, and drama classes.

Joel Kioko, an alum of Artists for Africa, got involved with the organization eight years ago. Executive director Cooper Rust discovered Kioko's talent during a visit to his former school in Kenya.

Rust traveled to Nairobi, Kenya in 2012 to volunteer as a dance instructor. Her experience inspired her to launch Artists for Africa, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of children living in the most impoverished areas of Africa through arts programs and educational opportunities.

“I went into the school in an afterschool arts program like Arts for Africa does, and immediately saw that he was exceptionally talented. So Artists for Africa helped pull him out of that environment,” Rust said. “He moved into our boarding house, got proper food, proper education. He’s gotten a job with Joffrey of Chicago, one of the top ballet companies in the world.” 

Joel !! More celebrating! This week we are introducing Joel Kioko who has just accepted a place with Joffrey Studio...

Posted by Artists for Africa on Monday, April 26, 2021

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The event took place at Central Energy on Gregg Street. There wasn’t a single empty seat in the room. The artists involved said they were overwhelmed at the turnout.

“It’s amazing. I didn’t expect to see all of these people with those kind of protocols. But I’m happy to see everyone. Everyone’s in their nice outfits. It’s good to be united,” said dancer Shamick Otieno.

“Yeah I just love everyone for the support and all the belief they have in us to be here for today,” said organization alum Francis Waweru.

Artists for Africa has raised over $100,000 for its programs and scholarships. For more information on how to get involved, visit their website.

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