Business Arts South Africa (Basa) Awards

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
31 Aug 2009

Programme Director
CEO OF BASA, Ms Michelle Constant
Distinguished Finalists and award winners
Members of the arts community
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you for inviting me to be part of this award ceremony and celebrations.

Tonight is a night on which we celebrate the arts and we recognize those who through their efforts have achieved excellence in the arts. We also recognise individuals who through their projects ensure that we lead a rich and productive cultural life.

Tonight we also salute those who have combined entrepreneurship with a passion for the arts. In an age in which we have witnessed a global recession, it is even more important to come up with creative ways in which the arts can be subsidized and ultimately be sustainable.

The creative thinker, Richard Florida, speaks about the rise of the creative class and its key role in urban regeneration.

In so doing, Florida identifies the critical mass of individuals, whether they are technicians, artists, business people, cultural workers, and producers etc., who together can support each other and help to build creativity in a city.

I think that in South Africa we should take this even further and give it new meaning on South African soil. It is my hope that by all means available, through public and private partnerships we build our arts and culture in such a manner that we can be called a creative nation.

A creative nation should be a nation in which the arts exist not simply for an elite, but where we do all we can to build arts for all.

A creative nation must be one where our efforts are also harnessed towards building creative communities in our rural areas – our investments must reap benefits also for artists and communities in rural areas.

A creative nation should be one where local content is the order of the day and our funding must assist artists to develop local content. The Department of Arts and Culture has done some work through the purchasing of the Downtown Studio in making this a possibility. But it requires partnerships between government and the private sector as well as communities to make these projects a living reality.

A creative nation should also be one in which projects by women are encouraged and where the girl child is encouraged to take part in artistic production alongside the boy child. This is how we should build a more inclusive society through building a people’s culture.

A creative nation is one where ‘like’ minds can come together and work on common projects irrespective of their race, gender, religion or affiliation and out of this dynamic interchange produce new art works that can make us confident that indeed we are proudly South African.

Today with the presentation of awards to some very exciting and innovative projects, I think we are taking some steps in the right direction. Let this be a stepping stone towards further progress and towards the sustainable development of the arts in South Africa.

On behalf of the Ministry and Department of Arts and Culture, I would like to thank all those individuals and collectives who have forged public private partnerships. It is only through such partnerships that we as a country can ensure growth and development and a flourishing arts sector.

The Business Day BASA Awards pays tribute to those businesses that promote the arts. In so doing, they also promote creative intellectual ideas.

The arts sector is certainly an area that develops human capital. I am talking here of a sector that is often overlooked in competition for the limited resources of our country when comparing it with education, health, infrastructure, etc. Yet we know - and research also demonstrates - that our heritage sector helps to build our tourism industry. Our music festivals lead also to a vibrant hospitality industry. Our funding of literature enables the publishing of great works of art that contribute to world literature and culture.

The arts sector also helps to build national pride and national unity which are important to build cohesion in a society and to enable our people to act together in building this country through economic activities and through social interaction.

If we believe in the power of the arts as a conduit for positive growth, it should therefore, not be difficult to align the arts with those issues that form part of the social agenda.

We cannot afford to ignore the capacity of the arts to create and generate employment, conscientize, and inform communities either directly or indirectly, as an integral part of our own unique contemporary identity which, of course, impacts on cultural tourism and hospitality industries. This faces us sharply as we approach 2010 and the World Cup.

As we seek to position the relationship between Arts and Business, let us remember that the arts enrich humanity, that it enriches our souls, that it feeds our spirituality and defines us as a people.

The arts have always been an expression of society in many ways such as bringing people together and fostering a better understanding of one another.

They have always been a barometer of our well being and an expression to reflect on the ethos of life in society.

Indeed art continues to be an instrument for social cohesion for people to reclaim their identity, express the state of the nation, strengthen their human rights, and reconstruct social structures.

The history of these awards shows that there is truly an opportunity to invest in our shared futures through the arts.

This year marks the 12th Business Day BASA Awards which provides a valuable platform and networking opportunity for small arts businesses and projects - with the partnerships forged.

These Awards have become prestigious in our country, in celebrating excellence in the field of Business and Arts partnerships and sponsorship. This year's Awards should provide an opportunity for Arts and Business to look to the future, and highlight excellent success stories of the past eleven (11) years.

Historically, besides government support of the arts, arts funding has come from private company's corporate social responsibility or philanthropic budgets.

Business and Arts South Africa has demonstrated that arts sponsorship, from marketing or promotional budgets, is a cost-effective vehicle for the sponsoring company, and that enduring and productive business-arts partnerships can be built.

The winning business will demonstrate significant business improvement through skills enhancement and innovation building. The Awards are to be awarded to a partnership that delivers regeneration and renewal of specific community engagement with the Arts. In this instance the winning business will have demonstrated commitment and innovation resulting in tangible benefits to a distinct community.

I am told that the awards can also be awarded to a volunteer business person, organisation or entity that has added outstanding benefit to an arts organisation through transfer of skills, knowledge, inspiration and strategic direction and that on-going partnership that continues to set standards in creative arts-business collaborations are considered important.

A partnership of Arts and Commerce can achieve startling and interesting results. Over the years, these partnerships have helped to improve both the impact and profile of a company's marketing message and helped to foster brand loyalty, which very few straight forward advertising campaigns can offer.

Artists all over the world and through the ages have depended on the insight and generosity of patrons to enable them to convey their artistic and creative message. But this patronage is also for the greater good of society as a whole. Without a doubt, the arts can provide a basis for an effective route for personal and collective growth and economic independence as demonstrated by our musicians, visual artists, crafters and literary writers, etc.

The Department of Arts and Culture through its flagship programme, Investing in Culture, is already contributing to poverty alleviation, creation of job opportunities and skills development in our country as part of contribution to the Expanded Public Works Programme.

The economic merits of the partnerships between the business sector and the arts are clear, as they really do lead to job creation.

Many artists have had the support of one, or a number of people who believed in art, and saw beyond its entertainment value and recognised its social and cultural significance.

The projects that have been initiated by these partnerships have enriched the lives of all South Africans and also benefited the companies that supported them.

Supporting the Arts also importantly speaks of a social consciousness far beyond a mere profit making motive associated with the private sector. It reveals a sense of community, of responsibility and in many ways, concern for humanity, because arts and culture are the expression, translation and reflection of the human condition.

It shows that corporations, both big and small, are also comprised of people who do not suspend their social and cultural morality, when it comes to profit motives, but instead they incorporate the power of art into their daily activities.

This evenings’ Business Day BASA Awards is a demonstration of the deeper and collective understanding of the value of collaboration between culture and business.

Tonight I would also like to thank the organisation that has principally been responsible for the creation of these partnerships, BUSINESS AND ARTS SOUTH AFRICA. The Department has provided ongoing funding for BASA. But with limited financial resources, hard work and a lot of ingenuity, Business and Arts South Africa has delicately walked the line between the commercialization of the arts and constructive entrepreneurship collaborations.

As we celebrate with tonight’s award winners, let us also pay tribute to the work of BASA over the past 12 years. Let us continue to take this journey together to build the arts and develop this creative nation.

Finally, Programme Director, I would like to thank all of you, and congratulate the corporate sector on working with the arts in our country.

A big thank you also to the artists for the creativity you bring to our world and what you reveal about the human condition.

I would like to encourage more businesses in the corporate sector to assist in further growing our arts in this country. I would also like to emphasise that with public-private partnerships we can do more to build the arts in our country and achieve our goals of Arts for All.

I thank you.