Music is a powerful tool that can bring individuals together and promote trust, empathy, and relief from life’s daily pressure. This year alone, data confirms that there is a bigger interest and spend on music and podcasts with an increase of 7,8% and a 3,7% increase in video and television.

When people dance and sing together, there is a sense of community with shared intentions and a mutual goal. And this is what Philippi Village is intending to cultivate with their state-of-the-art sound and film studio located in the heart of Philippi township where local, national and international artists make use of it. 

In the current climate, we are faced with so many societal impacts such as unemployment, loadshedding, rising fuel and basic resource costs and so there is a major spotlight on socio-economic development and how it impacts communities. The main purpose is to maintain the social and material well-being of the nation and its people with the aim of achieving the highest possible level of community sustainability.

Philippi Villages’ model aims to do exactly this through the co-creation of an inspiring,  safe and vibrant space with the community, for the community –  connecting people  to services, employment, educational opportunities and activities. 

The Philippi Village Sound Studio is designed as a multifunctional space to inspire and connect community to opportunity. It is used to encourage the community to engage in creating and exploring a variety of opportunities in music and sound. This includes music, sound production, podcasts, spoken word performances in an open arena, to name a few.

Bushra Razack, CEO at Philippi Village says “Culture has always been a driver in how people come together, communicate, relate and share. We often ignore how this can spark inspiration and growth in society.  The inclusion of culture and heritage conversations into the broader development model at Philippi Village allows us to  better understand our community’s needs, challenges and where the opportunities lie. Culture provides people with a way to engage, celebrate, explore and create shared experiences. We believe that what is local and unique has a special value and is connected to a person’s sense of belonging. Promoting and supporting this allows us to create a shared space, a hub of information and a platform to use this feedback to improve a wide range of outcomes and decision making processes. We use spaces like our studio to celebrate talent, encourage the community to engage in conversations, create and explore opportunities in music, storytelling, public messaging and to create a space of belonging for our artists and our community.  Supporting art and culture is an economic and social development strategy”.

The Philippi Village Sound Studio is proving to be the heartbeat of the Philippi Village space. 

“Sound and music play an integral part in the lives of the people of Philippi. As you drive into Philippi Village towards Eisleben Road you hear loud music from the Junxion Mall, street artists are performing, surrounded by an audience of local residents. As you approach Cwangco Crescent meat vendors are playing traditional music, dancing, and keeping themselves and their customers entertained. So, Philippi is always buzzing with music. Music keeps us going it’s that constant positive that’s always there for everyone to enjoy.” explains Zephaniah Ntshekisa, studio manager at Philippi Village.

The sound studio recently recorded Dee Koala who is an award-winning hip-hop artist as well as a girl band signed under Hitchat Entertainment, 4iAM. The talent is unstoppable at Philippi Village’s sound studio and multimedia entertainment solutions allow them to cross over from music production, where they not only record music for local artists but also produce soundtracks & advertising for various brands including a soundtrack  that was recorded, mixed and mastered for The Loeries Awards, to film production location space where adverts for brands such as Adidas and Foschini have been shot as well as scenes from Maze Runner and Resident Evil on an international front and the Nkululeko local series.

Culture is the lifeblood of a vibrant society expressed in many ways. Creative expression helps define who we are and helps to see the world through the eyes of others. The fusion of cultures helps to drive economic growth as it brings people together who are eager to make a living and provide for their people. Culture generates assets such as skills, products, expression, and insights that contribute to the social and economic well-being of a community. This integration makes the members of various cultures more receptive to the possibility of economic cross-cultural collaborations with those of other cultures.

The township economy or rather the informal economy is estimated to provide 17% of South Africa’s total employment and contributes around 6% to the country’s GDP. Both culture and good values shape economic development. Cultural attitudes toward achievement and prudence have a positive effect on economic growth and the sound studio at Philippi Village is a testament to this. 

Philippi Village in collaboration with Iingqondi Projects host music sessions every Friday between 14:00 and 18:00. These are open mic sessions that provides a platform to all local musicians, dancers and actors to perform their music to an audience of 300 to 400 people on a weekly basis. Iingqondi sessions has also become a safe social space for the youth as it caters for all age groups from Philippi and other surrounding communities.

The Philippi community and surrounds are infamous for high unemployment rates, crime and lack of opportunities. The sound studio gives local artists and youth an opportunity to record at a state-of-the-art studio free of charge.

DJ Ready D and his GCAP team were partners in the design and development of the Philippi Village Sound Studio. He also runs workshops which teach DJ skills to young girls, and the studio will soon host other workshops which teach basic music production skills to youth from the community.

The space consists of a soundproof area for recording, large enough to include vocalists, instruments and sound engineering equipment. Creating a safe space for storytellers in the community to come in and share stories which we can archive and share on a platform that is not only accessible to locals but also to the international market.

The inclusion of culture into community and economic development models can take many shapes and forms. Culture serves as the central focus.

The key to the success of the Philippi Village development is ongoing engagement with the local community to better understand their needs, challenges and where the opportunities lie. And they are putting a great deal of focus on bringing the community together through song, dance and sound.