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15 and a disregard of 21 million people under the age of 20 accounting for nearly 40 of the population StatsSA. ASSITEJ South Africa is about restoring dignity and respect to theatre for young audiences which includes theatre for babies. Artists making work for schools audiences are pioneers of audience development in South Africa schools are a demanding target market and insist that artists have accurate databases regular communication with their audiences have created value-added learning materials and workshops to accompany their performances. This kind of dedication has yielded competitive productions such as ShakeXperiences Animal Farm with extensive national touring near sold-out public runs and winning Best Production for Young Audiences and Best Ensemble Production with a nomination for Best Cutting Edge and Best Director at the 2015 Naledi Awards. With an emergence of high-quality work made specifically for young audiences in South Africa festivals are able to better programme age-appropriate theatre or specific family fare productions to their markets. As part of the Main Programme at the 2015 National Arts Festival professional Danish company ZeBu presented True Confusion a dance performance that uncovered the complicated transition from childhood to puberty between a boy and a girl. Theatre for young audiences with didactic and sometimes finger-wagging effect has a negative effect on young audiences. When asked about plays about teen pregnancy a Grade 11 pupil responded We dont want to hear about teenage pregnancy we hear about it at home at school at church everywhere we are tired of it now Theatre-maker Clara Vaughan has taken to this challenge of presenting sex to teenagers. Through a National Arts Council and ASSITEJ SA incubation project Vaughan has penned Sex and Me which explores sex as complex moral ground where the chorus declares Basically sex is pretty riskyEspecially promiscuityFull of moral ambiguityBut its very nice. Increasingly corporate and government funders are recognising the qualitative value of the arts and its relationship to young people in South Africa. Corporate sponsors Rand Merchant Bank have demonstrated a commitment to theatre for young audiences in bringing War Horse to South Africa and including accompanying workshops and curriculum-related materials to go with it. The National Arts Council of South Africa has partnered with ASSITEJ SA to bring the ASSITEJ World Congress and Performing Arts Festival Cradle of Creativity to Cape Town in 2017 where nearly a hundred member nations will be present. Artists who are engaging with young audiences are stimulating a wave of new and challenging work in the theatre scene that suggests exciting and transformative prospects for young people in South Africa. Applications for the ASSITEJ 2017 World Congress and Performing Arts Festival can be found on The closing date for applications is 30 April 2016 and the closing date for productions making African- collaborative works is in September 2016. For more information on ASSITEJ South Africa visit Yusrah Bardien is the Communications and Marketing ManagerforASSITEJ SA and Audience DevelopmentFellowforBusiness and Arts South AfricaConnectZA. She blogs in herpersonal capacityon currentaffairs Top Left clockwise Sipho Ngcola in QHAWE by Ukwando Puppet and Design Co Photo Supplied Theatre4youth Photo Marius Janse van Rensburg Menzi Mkhwanes LAST COWSTANDING Photo Paulo Menezes