Igniting development and wellbeing through the creative arts

The pulse of Zakheni is the belief in the capacity and power of the creative arts to ignite transformation, development and wellbeing through the creative arts

Working creatively, we recognise beyond the trauma and pain that disturbs health, the inherent strength, resilience and resourcefulness within all human beings. Through moving, making, creating, enacting and playing, we encourage the health of the individual and the community or collective, to come into expression. We understand that the art forms themselves ensure the work is both deep and safe.

Our approach is not new, it is ancient. Human beings have always known that they need to gather, around fires, tell stories, dance, make rhythm and make art. It is what keeps us strong, connected to ourselves, each other and the environments we live and work in.

Zakheni Transformative Arts Centre (formerly Zakheni Arts Therapy Foundation) was founded in 2001 is an established registered NPC focussed on making a social impact in the wellbeing and human development of people.  Kirsten Meyer  a drama therapist and Linda Smit , an art therapist, having trained in the UK  in the 1990s, there being no established programme in South Africa at the time, established Zakheni Arts Therapy Foundation. Lesley Palmer, a play therapist later joined them and their efforts and endeavours focussed on sharing the powerful approach to supporting child and youth workers in the  context of high mortality due to HIVAIDS and to promote the value of the creative arts therapies in  approaches to wellbeing.

Zakheni provides a hub or centre for multi-disciplinary approaches to psycho-social wellbeing centred in a strong practice of arts-based approaches and methodologies towards healing and social development. While in the past the approach to psycho-social support has been dominantly led by and within the framework of creative arts therapy, going forward, we will enhance our use of a blended team of creative arts therapists, counsellors, arts practitioners, social workers, applied artists and psychologists both counselling and clinical.

Zakheni is ensuring that the fires stay alight in communities, organisations and institutions by supporting them to tap into the transformative resource of their stories, as well as making the creative arts therapies profession and its services more visible and accessible to all.



The accessibility of creative arts therapies and applied arts services in the pursuit of health and wellbeing, growth and development of individuals and communities in South Africa


Ethical and professional delivery of a range of creative arts-based psychosocial and therapeutic services and capacity building programmes to individuals, groups, communities, organisations and social development institutions across South Africa


• Socially responsive praxis: Zakheni‘s programmes are developed in response to the psychological, social, political and cultural contexts of South Africa.
• Interdisciplinary: Zakheni recognises the strength in cross-collaboration and multiple perspectives
• Safety: Zakheni is committed to the use of arts practice in ways that are emotionally and psychologically safe.
• Arts as learning: Zakheni recognises the value of the arts and creativity as core to learning, healing and transformation
• Dialogical ethics: Zakheni is committed to critical dialogue with all stakeholders to sustain ethical practice in seeking decolonising methods of collaboration
• Critical Reflexivity: Zakheni is committed to ongoing dialogue around assumptions, actions and roles in the work we do
• Capabilities Approach to Human Development: Zakheni recognises that a person’s well-being requires “freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom to choose”. Wellbeing is made up of one’s functioning( states of being and doing) and ones capabilities that is the effective freedom one has to choose one state of being and doing over another.