Founder story: Buzz Kidz
Updated: Jul 25
Buzz Kidz demonstrates how drama and art education can change lives.
Cindy Dladla, Buzz Kidz & Hanneke Mackie, Founder and CEO of Buzz Kidz
Buzz Kidz is an inspiring educational program in South Africa that offers drama, dancing, and singing workshops to children up to 13 years old. The program was founded by Hanneke Mackie, who has always been passionate about arts education for social change.
Hanneke's journey began with a Degree in Theatre Performance, but her interest shifted towards theatre for political change and arts education. After finishing her degree, Hanneke started teaching drama and other performing arts in Johannesburg, where she realised that she was more interested in teaching drama for social change to underprivileged children. She started doing children's theatre and offered it in township communities.
Hanneke's passion for arts education continued to grow, and she eventually moved to London, where she worked with Perform, a company that does drama-based classes around London and the southeast of England. Hanneke worked for them for a long time and learned a lot about the systems. She even became the PR manager for the company and came home with enough money to start her business.
Hanneke started Buzz Kidz in Johannesburg. She started with a website and a good quality CRM, which helped her pretend to be a much bigger company than she actually was. She got a couple of people to help her run the workshops, and before she knew it, she was running 30 venues! She created a curriculum that has since migrated to an intuitive, online platform called Buzz-in-a-Box for teachers, franchisees and her staff. This curriculum has outcomes and a workshop plan for every day of the year for every grade. Her curriculum includes drama, dance and singing and employs original learning content like music, all of which she has created herself.
Buzz Kidz saw some great initial success, and it was decided that the business would expand to other cities in South Africa, such as Pretoria and Cape Town. Hanneke noticed that there was potential in getting Buzz Kidz into schools, and she started offering her program as an extramural activity and eventually as a curriculum in schools, in line with the South African CAPS curriculum. When COVID-19 forced the world into lockdown, this is when the concept and idea of the Buzz Edutainment television show for children, currently in development, was born.
Hanneke's program has always been deeply detailed, and she created workshop plans that have rich psycho- socio-, emotional development benefits for children. Buzz Kidz has recently started awarding franchises across South Africa to those who wish to be a part of the Buzz family, while the Buzz Foundation, the non-profit arm of the organisation, is serving less advantaged communities with the same programs.
Hanneke truly believes that drama, dance and singing help children with social development, communication, confidence and cognitive skills. Buzz Kidz has become an inspiring example of how arts education can change lives and Hanneke’s journey is a testament to how following one's passion can lead to success and positive change in the world.