Speech by Minister Nathi Mthethwa on the occasion of the 17th Annual Business Day BASA Awards

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25 Aug 2014

Chairman of BASA Mr Kwanele Gumbi,

Ms Heidi Brauer of Hollard Insurance,

Mr Songezo Zibi, Editor of Business Day,

Business finalists,

Artists,

Distinguished Guests

We gather here to highlight and celebrate the role played by business in the art of leadership – building business and arts alliances. This happens in the year when we pay special focus on the role of women in the history of South Africa and especially in the last twenty years.

South African women have played an important role in the struggle for freedom and democracy. It is a good development that business is doing the same, especially in the last 17 years to use the arts as a catalyst.

Women have claimed the space to organise themselves, mobilise for women’s emancipation and gender equality and, importantly, to unite women in rural and urban areas across provinces, languages and cultures and to fight against poverty and for a prosperous society and a productive life. In its own way, this event reminds us that business should be seen to be playing its part, no matter how small or big.

It is also noteworthy that these awards are being held here at the renamed Dr John Kani Theatre which historically was a vegetable and fruit market. This business place has since been transformed into the nerve-centre of our artistic creativity, especially theatre. This is confirmation of the intuitive connection between business, arts and leadership.

As we gather here tonight, it is 60 years since the signing of the Women’s Charter in 1954 in Johannesburg. Also, it is 20 years since the adoption of the 1994 Women’s Charter for Effective Equality. South Africa is celebrating 20 Years of Freedom and Democracy. In two years’ time we shall celebrate 60 years of the historic 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings.

Significantly, the Women's Charter influenced the content and spirit of the 1994 Women's Charter for Effective Equality and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996. We can see that the business of women has been leadership to a non-sexist society. Now business should listen to and respond to the voices of women and thus make women their business.

The value of partnerships between public sector, private sector and civil society cannot be underestimated if we are to see South Africa move forward. We have to constantly ask ourselves how business is doing in terms of opening up opportunities for women and contributing to gender and economic transformation.

It is a pleasure to attend and give the keynote address at the 17th Annual Business Day BASA Awards, partnered with Hollard. Every year at the Awards we see businesses being rewarded and recognised for the excellent partnerships that they engage in, with the arts sector.

These partnerships may be funded through Marketing, CSI or BBBEE budgets – but they all talk to a far deeper strategy – one where the arts play an integral part in the organisation and contribute to economic transformation.

Obviously as the DAC we believe the arts play a role to support the economy, tourism, social capital, nation building and social cohesion. In fact, the arts have a pivotal role to play in the radical economic transformation of the country through encouraging creative activities that provide jobs, security, small business opportunities and, finally, economic self-reliance among practitioners in the sector.

The National Development Plan talks of how “Arts and Culture open powerful spaces for debate about where a society finds itself and where it is going. Promoted effectively, the creative and cultural industries can contribute substantially to small business development, job creation and urban development and renewal.”

As the department we are looking at the establishment of creative arts incubators to provide tools to artists to create more content. We will also be launching a Venture Capital Fund to invest in the growth of our artists who require expansion capital to reach their artistic potential. This is an area where private capital feels there is too much risk, so the government must play a role in decreasing this risk which ultimately benefits the artist to be more sustainable.

As we celebrate 20 years of democracy, we witness a significant shift where businesses of a diverse nature are engaging with each other across sectors such as financial institutions to educational and hospitality regardless of size. The goal is always the same – a partnership of Shared Value.

Our choice of venue for tonight’s event, the Dr John Kani Theatre offers insight into a powerful future that talks to great partnerships. The renovation of the Newtown area and the building of the new Newtown Junction with the support of the private sector in this engagement, talks to an exciting and vibrant opportunity for all sectors. This is certainly moving South Africa and is in line with our vision of bringing the arts sector to the forefront of contributing to the economy and creating jobs to bring down unemployment and fight poverty.

Finally, the Department of Arts and Culture is focusing on effective ways of engaging the Mzansi Golden Economy opportunities – which is why we are, with the support of BASA, driving the implementation of Section 18A and Tax Rebates for business funding the arts. We are currently engaging with Treasury and look forward to seeing a positive and valuable outcome for the arts and business.

We shall also be engaging the Davis Tax Committee to give input on the tax incentives that would allow business to continue contributing to the arts while seeing tangible economic benefits trickling down to artists. We must remember that without artists we would have no art to appreciate, to inspire us or to invest in. We are thankful of the growing relationship and partnership with business. We believe it will make a significant contribution to promoting active citizenry in the country where the arts sector plays its role in radical economic transformation.

In closing, I would like to thank BASA, the sponsors, the businesses and the artists. We all have a common goal of building an economically vibrant sector where justice, non-sexism, non-racialism and social equality are the order of the day. Our former president and international icon, Nelson Mandela said our future is in our hands. Let us go forth to make it happen with the power we have. Thank you!