In South Africa, the convergence of art and business has given rise to exceptional and inspiring partnerships, celebrated through the Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) Awards. These awards recognise and applaud the mutually beneficial relationships between the arts and business sectors, showcasing the influence that creative collaborations can have in fostering innovation, and addressing society’s challenges. In October 2023, the BASA Awards is set to take center stage in Cape Town for the first time, at the Zeitz MOCAA at the V&A Waterfront, marking a milestone in its history.
The BASA Awards happen every year to support people in the arts, mainly in the private sector. A BASA Award is one of the few accolades that recognises the mutual benefits creativity and business in South Africa. There are different awards for various creative avenues and different partnerships. In addition, BASA’s Chairperson’s Award is the highest Award given in recognition of sustained and extraordinary commitment to the arts in South Africa, in the form of advocacy and awareness initiatives and/or direct support for the arts.
I had a conversation with the BASA Marketing and Communications Manager Sinenhlanhla Mdiya, who shared insights into what the BASA Awards are, and their importance to the South African Creative industry.
Mika Chipana: Can you provide an overview of the Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) Awards and what distinguishes it from other recognition programmes in the arts and business sectors?
Sinenhlanhla Mdiya: Although business and the arts are two sectors that are often perceived as very different, the successful business and arts partnerships that the BASA Awards highlight show the profound influence that business engagement can have when harnessing creativity to convey messages and develop innovative ideas.
Mika Chipana: What inspired the theme for this year’s BASA Awards, which focuses on arts and business partnerships that positively impact the creative, cultural, and business sectors?
Sinenhlanhla Mdiya: We’re living in complex times. The old systems and ways of doing things aren’t working and we’re all looking for new solutions. The theme ‘Symbiosis’ was chosen to spotlight the idea that there are many shared values and complementary goals between the private sector and the arts. These symbiotic collaborations have the potential to address some of the most pressing challenges facing our country, while also highlighting the amazing creativity and innovation in our midst.
Mika Chipana: Could you share some examples of compelling arts and business partnerships that took place in 2022, which were nominated in the 26th BASA Awards?
Sinenhlanhla Mdiya: Sunglasses Hut Sponsorship In-Kind Award
The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited & Blessing Ngobeni for Priceless Print
Standard Bank teamed up with the 2020 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art, along with the Sunday Times to create a once in a lifetime opportunity: The Priceless Print, a once-off, one-of-a-kind event, where everyday South Africans could discover their interest in art by searching for a priceless original artwork in their weekly newspaper.
IDC Corporate Social Investment Award
Chickenland Pty Ltd t/a Nando’s & Meta Foundation for OpenStudios X Nando’s
Nando’s has been actively supporting contemporary South African art since 2001, amassing a collection of over 21 000 artworks from Southern African artists. It is the world’s largest private collector of contemporary South African art. Nando’s has supported over 350 artists and displayed their art in 1 200 restaurants across 24 countries. Their creative initiatives have expanded to include design and music.
In 2023, Nando’s partnered with the META Foundation, the organisation behind OpenStudios.Joburg, for a two-day immersive art event. This event aimed to provide opportunities for contemporary artists and to democratise art, by allowing visitors to explore artists’ studios, engage with their work, and enjoy various art-related activities. The event coincided with the Latitudes Art Fair, enriching the art experience for Johannesburg art enthusiasts.
Mika Chipana: The BASA Awards has nine distinct categories. Can you elaborate on the criteria and objectives of each category, and what kind of initiatives are typically recognised in each?
Sinenhlanhla Mdiya: All categories are judged against the broader BASA Awards criteria, as well as how closely they align with the objectives and criteria for that specific category.
The Beyond Borders Partnership Award recognises partnerships that build brand reputation and audience for both partners across borders, through a project showcasing South Africa to the rest of the continent and/or overseas, or bringing international or intercontinental arts projects to South Africa.
The Community Development Award celebrates NPO, NGO, CBO or PBO support for arts and culture projects enhancing their communities, whether through education, skills development, contributing to livelihoods or employment, tourism, or other growth opportunities at a grassroots level.
Similarly, the Corporate Social Investment Award acknowledges vital support for arts and culture projects enhancing their communities, but this support is specifically from medium to large businesses (defined as entities with more than 50 full-time employees and over R40 million annual turnover) as part of their wider CSI or CSR strategy.
The First-Time Sponsor Award recognises a sponsor supporting the arts for the first time, regardless of size, budget, and whether the support is through CSI, marketing, HR, B-BBEE, or other.
Building on the former Arts and the Environment Award, this year BASA introduced the Green Award, linked to the organisation’s Climate|Culture Programme. This category seeks to acknowledge impactful creative and cultural projects responding to the climate emergency.
The Innovation Award celebrates the most innovative, cutting-edge and progressive partnerships that serve all partners’ purposes effectively. These breakthrough projects and partnerships should demonstrate great creativity, originality, reinvention, new methodologies, or technological/digital innovation.
The Long-Term Partnership Award recognises outstanding initiative and commitment to the arts over a longer-term period (at least three years) as an integral part of the sponsor’s strategy. The value to the arts project, the broader community, and the sponsor must be apparent.
The Sponsorship In-Kind Award acknowledges sponsors giving quantifiable and impactful non-monetary support to the arts. This may be through the in-kind provision of equipment, materials, media or PR support, space, transportation or travel, or any other product or service, rather than to monetary sponsorship.
Finally, the SMME Award is for vital support given to the arts by a micro, small or medium enterprise with up to 250 full-time employees and an annual turnover of no more than R100 million.
Mika Chipana: How were the submissions for the BASA Awards evaluated? Can you provide insight into the judging criteria and the role of the panel of experts from the arts and business sectors?
Sinenhlanhla Mdiya: Submissions were evaluated by a panel of experts hailing from both the arts and business sectors. Furthermore, an audit was conducted by Middel & Partners to ensure transparency and fairness in the judging process.The judges are asked to consider whether the project submitted was successful in achieving both the business and arts organisations’ objectives, as well as its fit within the category into which it was entered. The judging criteria encompasses several essential factors, including creativity, innovation, impact, visibility and sustainability of both the project and the partnership. Judges also looked at the depth and equity of collaboration demonstrated among the participating partners. In addition to the award categories open for entry, the BASA Board of Directors select Special Award winners to honour extraordinary contributions made by individuals, businesses, and organisations towards advancing the sustainability of South Africa’s arts scene.
Mika Chipana: The BASA Awards also include two Special Awards, the Chairperson’s Award and the Diplomacy in the Arts Award. Could you explain what these awards represent and how recipients are chosen?
Sinenhlanhla Mdiya: Awarded at the discretion of BASA’s Board Chairperson, the Chairperson’s Award is made in recognition of sustained and extraordinary commitment to the arts in South Africa, in the form of advocacy and awareness initiatives, and/or director support for the arts, whether in a personal or professional capacity at a local, national or international level. The Green Award was based on a selection of projects extracted from the BASA Culture/Climate platform and were voted on by the panel of judges.
Mika Chipana: What benefits can sponsors and partners expect from participating in the BASA Awards, beyond the recognition and honour of winning an award?
Sinenhlanhla Mdiya: Partnering with the BASA Awards is an act of arts advocacy and celebrates the values of mutual partnership that both the BASA Awards and BASA the organisation uphold.
Mika Chipana: The awards ceremony for the 26th BASA Awards is scheduled to take place in Cape Town in October 2023. Can you tell us more about what attendees can expect from this event and its significance in celebrating arts-business collaborations?
Sinenhlanhla Mdiya: This is the first time that the BASA Awards will be held in Cape Town, making its debut at the spectacular Zeitz MOCAA museum in the V&A Waterfront. The event offers an exciting entertainment line-up led by the BASA Awards Featured Artist, legendary dancer Gregory Maqoma. His performance at the BASA Awards is a precursor to a weekend of events celebrating his dance career in the creative sector as he is poised to leave the stage. Maqoma will be followed by award-winning trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni, and talented Cape Town-based violinist Kirsty Bows.
Mika Chipana: Looking beyond this year, what are the long-term goals and aspirations for the BASA Awards in continuing to foster arts-business partnerships and their positive impact on society?
Sinenhlanhla Mdiya: The BASA Awards aspire to be a driving force behind the continual growth and evolution of arts-business partnerships, leveraging their positive impact on society, culture, and the economy. By pursuing these long-term goals and aspirations, the awards programme aims to remain at the forefront of advancing collaboration between the creative and corporate world. The BASA Awards play an important role in showcasing what is possible with the right partnership in place. With 26 years of incredible award partnerships behind us, we hope to continue celebrating the best examples of arts and business partnerships and also interrogating what it is that makes these partnerships work – sharing those lessons with others and encouraging more cross-sector collaboration.