MASARA (Musical Arts in South Africa: Resources and Applications) was established as a research niche area in November 2008. The focus for 2008-2012 was on selected musical arts of South Africa, with specific reference to Setswana and other local music cultures of the North-West Province. After the International Music & Wellbeing Conference of 2013 and subsequent strategic planning sessions, the niche's focus gradually shifted from the conservation and use of indigenous music to music and well-being, which does not exclude the previous focus. The dandelion has been used as a symbol for MASARA since the 2013 conference and refers to power, strength, cooperation, flexibility, wellbeing, growth, diversity and individuality.

MASARA organigram

The NWU is the only university in South Africa that conducts focused research about and on music. The research niche, MASARA, is also unique because researchers who specialise in diverse music disciplines such as musicology, ethnomusicology, music education, religious music, composition and performance are working together symbiotically within the collective focus area of music and wellbeing. The research that results from this combined focus contributes to the enhancement of various contexts, such as music teaching and learning, music in everyday life, music in communities, as well as music in religious contexts. Prof June Boyce-Tillman, Extraordinary Professor in MASARA, is a specialist in music and wellbeing, and together with other research fellows and postdoctoral fellows also make a strong contribution to the research focus. Furthermore, MASARA cultivates strong research collaborations with the University of Winchester (UK), Coventry University (UK), the Royal College of Music in Stockholm (Sweden), and the University of Jyväskylä (Finland).

Our vision:
Our vision is to establish MASARA as a leading research entity on music and wellbeing in South Africa.

Our mission is to:
• expand collective knowledge of diverse musical experiences;
• develop relevant research in music and wellbeing in national and international settings; and
• pursue a cooperative research culture that is socially relevant and scientifically recognised.

Strategy 2015-2017:
The strategy that supports our mission is to develop research and creative outputs innovatively by enhancing the quality and increasing the quantity of research in relation to required capacities and skills.