Thuli Mlambo-James is a Johannesburg-based creative arts practitioner with more than ten years of Project Management experience. Her interest in the growth and sustenance of the South African art ecosystem led to her realisation that challenges in the South African arts ecology could be efficiently overcome by working in tandem with other creatives.
She is passionate about exploring new spaces, meeting and connecting with people, business start-ups, the arts and creative industries. This was inculcated in her as a young girl, when her parents took her to live with a family that was exiled in Swaziland, for access to a “decent education”. Her home in Swaziland was frequented by various interesting personalities, ranging from creatives to politicians and academics, who would later become renowned figures in South Africa’s liberation struggle.
As an adult, Mlambo-James moved to London, where she worked as an Events Manager for the South African High Commission in Trafalgar Square, and as an International Media Administrator for MTV UK and Media24 Magazines UK. Upon her return to South Africa, she worked as an Events Producer for VWV Group SA, Bluemoon Events & Communications.
She also ventured into the TV & Film Industry working for Endemol TV as a Production Manager, and as a Content Producer for an SABC TV educational show “Mother of All Professions”, which focused on teacher development, management, and leadership. She also worked as a Production Manager for the Encounters Documentary Film Festival in Cape Town.
From 2017-18, Mlambo-James served as a Director of the Bag Factory Artist’s Studios in Johannesburg. Thereafter she pursued an MA in Arts Administration & Cultural Policy at Goldsmiths University, London. However, due to financial constraints, she had to defer her studies. She then founded Ujamaa Arts, an arts organisation, which focuses on art curation, exhibitions, art & artist management, socially engaged artistic practice projects and creating collaborative efforts both locally and globally to help grow and sustain the South African art ecology, through support, investment, knowledge exchange, targeted interventions, and advocacy.
Her interests lie in local and global current affairs, visual cultures, creative arts and industries, social development projects, project start-ups, and art advocacy for emerging, under-recognised artists. Connecting and networking with people energises her. Thuli’s universal vision is an end state in which humanity can collectively make wise decisions and be tolerant of each other, as humans living on borrowed time on this Earth.