“In any civilization – ours included – the arts are inseparable from the very meaning of the term ‘education.’ We know from long experience that no one can claim to be truly educated who lacks basic knowledge and skills in the arts.” – National Standards for Arts Education
Epworth not only boasts an enviable cultural or arts programme, but it is also home to arguably the finest performing arts facility of its kind in KwaZulu-Natal. Officially opened in October 2019, the Epworth Performing Arts Centre is the hub of the school’s music, dance and drama activities which, together with the visual arts, sets it apart as a centre of arts excellence, contributing to the holistic learning experience.
Music features prominently at Epworth and is one of the major growth areas of the school. It is offered as a subject from Grades 8 to 12 and provides pupils with the opportunity to look at history through an artistic lens whilst exploring creativity and self-expression.
Twenty-twenty started on a high note with the launch of a Grade 8 instrumental music programme that is unique to Epworth. All Grade 8 pupils, regardless of their musical background, have the choice of learning to play either the piano or clarinet, or receiving vocal training. This new initiative has been implemented to make learning music accessible to all our pupils as a valuable and enriching life skill.
Our music department has two choirs, a string ensemble, a jazz band and three marimba bands. These groups perform regularly and provide a valuable group-performance platform for our instrumentalists and singers. Our high-profile public performances position Epworth prominently on the local music map.
Individual and group music lessons are offered with specialist vocal and instrumental teachers. Annually, we prepare and enter our music pupils for the ABRSM practical and theory examinations. All pupils participate in hymn practices, which means that everyone in the school has an opportunity to sing.
Dance is entrenched in the cultural life of Epworth. The school boasts a junior and a senior development dance company, where young talent is nurtured, as well as the LiveArt Dance Company. Auditions for the LiveArt Dance Company are open to pupils from Grades 9 to 11. Specialist contemporary dance instructors lead these groups. The school liaises with various ballet and other dance studios to ensure that our pupils have the opportunity to express themselves through this beautiful art form.
Every year, the school’s cultural programme features either a musical or a conventional play, which most often involves collaboration with one of the boys’ schools. Auditions are open to pupils from all grades, regardless of whether or not they study drama as an academic subject. All pupils experience drama as a Grade 9 subject, with many choosing to continue with it to Grade 12.
A new, spacious and modern art studio, with a mezzanine floor, complements our visual arts offering, which is available to all pupils from Grades 8 to 12. Pupils are challenged to push the boundaries of artistic expression by developing critical thinking and an expressive visual language. They are exposed to a variety of art processes and explore both traditional and non-traditional media and practice.
There is an active debating culture at Epworth and every year the school enters two teams into each of the Grade 8, junior and senior debating leagues in Pietermaritzburg. Epworth debaters are renowned for doing extremely well and regularly feature at the top of the leagues.
Debating also has an individual element, where pupils can be selected for local, provincial and national teams. The school has produced several national speakers who have represented South Africa and competed overseas.