Integrating creativity is no longer a luxury
This year’s Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) awards, which recognize partnerships between the business and arts sectors, are taking place against a backdrop of challenging economic conditions; a global energy crisis, stagnant economic growth, accelerating inflation and sagging business confidence. The atmosphere is dark. One might then ask why companies (should) continue to invest in discretionary spending, especially those that support creative outputs?
The answer is less complex than it seems because the ripple effects of such partnerships go beyond the bottom line. Investment in creativity may indeed be discretionary, but it is essential to the development of a healthy and robust art ecology and a thriving cultural environment. In turn, creative productions enrich our sensory experience and broaden the possibility of thinking, but they also contribute concretely to the economy through the creation of jobs, goods and services.
Authentic recognition is crucial. The BASA Awards – whether in community development, corporate social investment, partnerships across borders, early sponsors, innovation, long-term partnership, in-kind sponsorship or SME support – recognize the bold commitment that both parties are making to the cultural ecosystem. It is a reminder that the usual characterization of art and business as contradictory can, in fact, be challenged. That the business and art sectors are interconnected subsets of social life.
In the context of the global pandemic, financial and non-financial supports in the form of partnerships, grants, equipment and know-how are the lifeline that allows many artists to stay in practice.
Looking back on the most recent of the BASA Awards’ 25-year legacy, partnerships have included the Absa Group Limited Partnership and the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (recognized with the BASA Beyond Borders Partnership Award in 2018) for the Absa L’ Atelier art competition, the fruit of the collaboration, offers young artists resources, including a residency at the prestigious International City of Arts in France, to deepen their artistic practice. Or perhaps recognition of Standard Bank’s partnership with the National Arts Festival for The Standard Bank Young Artist Awards (recognized for the BASA Long-Term Partnership in 2020).
The Standard Bank Young Artist Awards, of course, read like an art historical encyclopedia detailing some of the most talented artists in the disciplines of theatre, music, jazz, visual arts, dance, film and performance art – an archival mapping of significant artistic contributions from 1981, including recipients; Sibongile Khumalo, Gloria Bosman, Helen Sebidi and Berni Searle – all of whom paved the way, inspiring a new generation of artists in their respective fields.
This year, the partnership between BMW South Africa and Southern Guild is in the spotlight for creating a platform for creator Rich Mnisi to develop his work as an artist and share his cultural perspective, reaching new audiences. for both partners with the tailor-made RICH magazine. BMW and Southern Guild have been exploring the relationship between art and automation for some time, but some long-term partnerships go back even further. This year’s Cassirer Welz Award partnership with Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, originally founded in 2011 as the Reinhold Cassirer Award, is a Long-Term Partnership Award finalist alongside Nandos and Spier Arts Trust and the partnership ongoing between Sibikwa Arts Center and TotalEnergies. . All of these partnerships have had a significant impact on the artists’ lives by creating opportunities, support and visibility for their careers to flourish.
The urgent need to solve important social problems is also a strong thread running through the list of finalists for the awards in 2022, with many projects integrating creativity into solutions for the planet and people. Baz-Art’s contributions to the Plastics Museum and their Nina Manzi partnership with Viva con Agua raise awareness of the issues – the negative environmental pressure of plastic and access to sanitation for homeless people respectively.
Far from being frivolous, such awards are even more important in a difficult economic climate, not only because of their festive nature, but also because they are exemplary for other companies, reflecting the value of sustainable partnerships for different audiences. . By honoring worthwhile collaborations, the awards provide models for possible new ways to work together productively – showcasing both mainstream collaborations as well as smaller, more localized community projects.
Successful collaborations are a reflection on connections that are not purely extractive – harnessing the power of “better together” in increasingly difficult and polarized conditions. Neither business nor the arts are defined by their partnerships, or the rewards that might flow from such partnerships, but they are defined by the value they bring to society (or at least they should).
The winners of this year’s BASA Awards will be announced on August 29, 2022 at an event streamed live on www.basa.co.za
Nkgopoleng Moloi is a Cape Town-based writer, curator and photographer. She is interested in the spaces we occupy and pass through and how these influence the people we become. Writing is a tool Moloi uses to understand the world around him and to explore the things that excite and intrigue him, especially history, art, language and architecture. She is fascinated by cities; their complexities and their potential.
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