Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) noted that they had received an unqualified audit opinion on their 2008/9 annual report . BASA briefed the Committee on their legislative environment and stakeholders. Their membership had seen growth in smaller to mid-size member businesses. They aimed to lift the profile of arts and artists in South Africa. The key component in their strategy for the 2009/10 financial year was the diversification of their funding model. The steps taken to restructure BASA’s internal organisation as well as measures to grow their institutional marketing, value for members and grow equitable partnerships between business and the arts were presented. The diversification of the funding model focused on the introduction of a Bespoke Consultancy that would allow members to pay BASA for additional services, specifically tailored to their needs.
The Committee commended BASA on their unqualified audit opinion and well presented annual report. Financially, the Committee queried the increase in the remuneration of their auditors and the fact that nothing was budgeted for training. The Committee was interested in BASA projects like Room 13 project and Africa meets Africa. The development of rural artists was discussed according to support provided to artists in Kwazulu-Natal and Limpopo. BASA was also asked how they engaged with traditional leaders. The Chairperson asked for more positive and progressive results on rural development and transformation at their next engagement. The Committee suggested that BASA use local community radio stations to market themselves and enquired about the possibility of displaying South Africa artwork at the OR Tambo International Airport and the possibility of engaging older artists to mentor children. Members queried what their five-year projected priorities and how these tied in with government’s objective of creating decent jobs through arts and culture
Briefing by Business and Arts South Africa on 2008/09Annual Report
Mr Kwanele Gumbi, Board Member: Business and Arts South Africa stated that Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) was a unique organisation that had high impact despite its small size. He added that they had been privileged to have Ms Michelle Constant as the CEO of Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) for the last 18 months. He hoped that they would be able to interrogate the key issues and receive constructive criticism based on the presentation.
Ms Michelle Constant, Chief Executive Officer: Business and Arts South Africa stated that BASA had received an unqualified audit opinion and recapped BASA’s background, legislative environment and stakeholders. Their membership had seen growth in smaller to mid size (businesses) members. BASA aimed to lift the profile of arts and artists in South Africa.
The key component in their strategy for the 2009/10 financial year was the diversification of their funding model. This had arisen from their recent move to in-kind support, due to the recession. She briefly explained the steps taken to restructure BASA’s internal organisation, specifically the recent appointment of a Western Cape representative and securing pro bono legal advice to assist artists. Measures to grow institutional marketing and value for members and grow equitable partnerships between business and the arts were presented.
A diagram, highlighting all the ways that BASA linked its stakeholders and other organisations, was presented. This concentrated on the roles of the main stakeholders: member businesses, government and the arts organisations. It also illustrated various programmes BASA participated in, such as Room 13, Barloworld Mentorship Programme, Boardbank South Africa, the Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition, the South African Theatre Initiative (SATI), the National Arts Festival (NAF) and other arts festivals. The diversification of the funding model would include government, member businesses, Friends of BASA and the revenue generated by the Bespoke Consultancy. The membership fees were very low and could not be raised in the current economic climate. The Bespoke Consultancy would allow for members to pay additional services from BASA, specifically tailored to their needs.
Ms E Nyalungu (ANC) asked what criteria was used to fund the schools mentioned under the Room 13 project and whether the schools selected were provincially representative.
Ms A Lotriet (DA) noted the positive impact of the Room 13 project. She asked whether anything had been done to expand or replicate this success at other schools and whether this was possible.
Ms Constant responded that Room 13 was not owned by BASA. It was an initiative by the advertising group- TBWA. BASA provided support in the drive for funding, which was specifically aimed at previously disadvantaged schools. It was a wonderful project and the organisation was looking at ways to expand its reach.
Mr H Maluleke (ANC) remarked that artists often only received recognition after they died and asked what Parliament could do to assist the arts in South Africa. He also asked what BASA did to assist artists to run the profession like any other good business and to ensure that artists had the skills to be financially secure.
Ms Constant responded that the challenge in supporting artists was that BASA had a very specific mandate. Accordingly, they had specifically focused on upskilling and empowering artists. Using Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition and arts festivals, they were trying to find small ways to teach and empower artists. They also promoted the Barloworld Mentorship Programme. Their crucial concern was that not enough people knew about BASA and this was the reason for marketing BASA to business.
Mr Maluleke asked whether BASA worked in the more rural provinces, like Kwazulu-Natal. He referred to complaints from rural artists that resources were concentrated in Gauteng. He also pointed out that many of the artists in Gauteng were from other provinces, artists who had moved there because that was where the resources were.
Ms Constant replied that BASA was engaging with the Ilanga newspaper and had a representative in Kwazulu-Natal to assist artists in that province. Travel costs were a big issue. The organisation spent a lot on travel to reach rural areas and finances could be hamstrung at times because of this.
Ms D Van Der Walt (DA) congratulated BASA on their unqualified audit report. She pointed out two points of interest: firstly, the increase in the remuneration of their auditors and secondly, the fact that nothing was budgeted for training.
Ms Constant replied that they were aware of the increase in the auditors’ remuneration and were looking for more affordable options. The funding of training had been very much in kind in the past. A funding model for training was included in the new budget.
Ms Van Der Walt referred to the talented sculptors in Limpopo and asked how they could benefit from BASA’s services.
Ms Constant agreed that the sculptors in Giyani (Limpopo) were very talented. While hampered by a lack of resources, BASA took small steps to support the arts through arranging exhibitions and workshops to get the artwork viewed in the public domain. She referred to the exhibition held by the BMW dealership in Polokwane. This exhibition was held on the dealership floor and was so successful (dealership sales increased, as a result) that the dealership had agreed to another exhibition. There were many other examples of similar small initiatives.
Ms Constant added that the supporting grants had grown in terms of percentages, year on year. Broadly speaking, artists were a lot more media and business savvy. BASA could not report on all the arts funding accessed by artists in South Africa. They could only account for artists that approached BASA for a supporting grant.
Mr Gumbi replied that the dynamics of BASA’s support in the rural areas hinged on BASA’s recognition that they were a young organisation with a limited budget and limited capacity. They could do more but could not support increased activity on the current budget. This was why they were requesting more funding. This would determined their impact and reach. The last 18 months had been particularly challenging as businesses support for the arts had declined in the recession. As BASA was the link between business and the arts, this affected them as well.
BASA planned to be a national organisation where anyone could apply. However, it was discovered that certain provinces did not apply, especially Limpopo. Going to these regions to facilitate application and promote BASA’s services was costly and this lead to their limited success in certain provinces. Gauteng was a traditional area where people applied. BASA assisted artists with applications, where possible, but did this with great difficulty. The focus on rural areas was not complemented by the necessary resources. BASA had spoken to the Lottery Board as a way to obtain funding. They were in a “Section 21 catch 22” situation – they could not obtain more funding until they had spent their allocation. BASA had started to adopt a strategy that recognised the importance of saving a surplus as a buffer for these gaps in funding between spending their funding and awaiting grants.
Mr Maluleke congratulated BASA on their unqualified audit report and commended them on their well presented report. He noted that it was not like the glossy reports Parliament usually saw. He jokingly added that a glossy report often accompanied a qualified audit opinion – where more was spent on the report that on the content of the report.
Mr Maluleke referred to BASA’s spending on awareness campaigns. He had personally become aware of BASA because of Ms Constant’s radio show on SAFM. He wondered whether local community radio stations could be used to market BASA as well.
Ms Constant replied that BASA had been interested in using community radio stations for some time. The intention was to approach the SABC to put information on BASA out on these stations. BASA currently used Public Broadcast Stations but saw community radio stations as key to engaging specifically with the local business communities and linking them to communities' arts projects through BASA supporting grants.
Mr Maluleke noted that delegates at the recent International Parliamentary Union (IPU) meeting had remarked that they would like to see South African artwork on display at the O R Tambo International Airport. He asked if Parliament could connect BASA with the relevant people to allow artwork from all the provinces to be displayed at the airport. If this could be done on a leasing basis, it would provide a stable income stream for the artists.
Ms Constant responded that she loved the idea of displaying South Africa artwork at the O R Tambo Airport. She referred to the Art Bank run by the Gauteng Provincial Government. This was run on a leasing structure. BASA could approach Art Bank. Generally, there was a need to see more public art, especially for 2010.
Mr Gumbi noted that he did not understand why it was sometimes so difficult for government entities (like ACSA and BASA) to talk to each other and this meant that BASA often missed opportunities. All government departments and state owned entities should be used to benefit all South Africans. He asked the Members to keep the practical difficulties in mind, with reference to displaying artwork at the OR Tambo Airport. He stated that it would be useful if BASA could be called back together with the Department of Arts and Culture to present their parts in a unified plan for arts and culture in South Africa. This should be done before the individual plans were finalised to avoid mistakes and exclusions in the overall planning.
Ms M Nxumalo (ANC) asked if there was a database for artists and if older artists could be included in such a database. She felt that older artists could mentor children, possibly becoming art teachers in schools. A database could be used to find suitable artists for this.
Ms Constant responded that this was a good idea and that it would be interesting to engage on this idea.
Ms Nxumalo referred to the arts programme sponsored by Kiwi (Kiwi Kick to the African Beat) on SABC 1 and how this showed that the youth was very talented. She asked if the children featured in such forums could be groomed. Specifically, she asked if BASA could inject some money into such a programme. She also wondered if BASA went to schools to identify youngsters with and felt that BASA should do this.
Ms Constant responded that BASA did not specifically groom children. Instead, it focused on specific projects that had wider reach.
Ms Nxumalo referred to the programme run in conjunction with Levis and stated that women in the rural areas designed beautiful fabrics and garments. She asked how Levis could interact with the designers in rural areas.
Ms Constant responded that BASA participated in the SANLAM Fashion Week, in conjunction with the Department of Arts and Culture to match designers with South African crafters and worked to establish this relationship going forward.
The Chairperson joined the applause for the unqualified audit report. He asked how BASA intended to sustain this quality in governance.
The Chairperson asked BASA to point their main successes and challenges over their 12 year existence. He was also interested in how Parliament could help.
The Chairperson asked what their five-year projected priorities were and how these were linked to the government’s key priorities, especially regarding creating decent jobs through arts and culture.
The Chairperson asked if BASA had the mechanisms to project the year on year outcomes of their skills development and arts education programmes.
The Chairperson noted that traditional leaders were seen as the custodian of arts and culture and asked how BASA engaged with them.
The Chairperson asked BASA to elaborate on the Africa meets Africa project.
The Chairperson asked if arts and culture could be used to fight crime and corruption in South Africa. He also asked how they addressed the exploitation of artists, through ridiculously low prices for their art and the theft of intellectual property, specifically, how they worked to empower artists to stop them from being so vulnerable. He was also pleased with the financial management and business training for artists.
The Chairperson noted that rural development and transformation had been ignored enough. There was a need for a more robust move in that direction. He wanted to hear more positive and progressive results from BASA at their next engagement with the Committee.
The Chairperson was pleased with their savings/surplus strategy to deal with their funding challenges and the economic crisis. He referred to the BASA e-newsletter and asked if the members could receive this as well.
The Chairperson asked BASA to open their doors to the Committee in their regional offices and in terms of information on their programme. He also felt that the categorisation of programmes was scattered and asked them to be more specific about what their priorities were.
Due to time constraints, the Chairperson asked the presenters to respond to one or two of the issues he had raised.
Ms Constant replied that BASA was investigating the possibility of creating a Business and Arts South Africa model for other African countries. This was in response to the interest in such a model from Rwanda and other African countries. This was a very recent development and was in line with the discussions at the Art Summit (Johannesburg September 2009). BASA had taken this discussion forward with the Department of Arts and Culture and the Department of International Relations and Co-operation. Cultural diplomacy was very powerful and something BASA had to engage with. Additionally BASA was looking at which of their member businesses had operations on the African continent. This would prove important in their efforts to develop diplomatic forums and take their artists abroad.
Regarding crime, BASA funded a project in Soweto, called the Stop Crime Drama Festival. Mr Martin Koboekae ran the project and he was funded by ABSA bank. ABSA also did interesting work in social investment, most recently an HIV/AIDS project on the Cape Flats.
BASA was very aware about the exploitation of artists and this was the reason they offered artists pro bono legal advice and support. Crucially, artists were not skilled enough to engage with the more technical aspects of contracts and remuneration. This was a matter of how artists were empowered and upskillled. In the long-term, BASA artists would not need this kind of support, as they would be skilled enough to address the legal and business issues.
She added that BASA would gladly forward the e-newsletter to the members and would liase with the Committee staff on the details.
Like all other organisations, BASA was also preparing for the 2010 World Cup. It had put together a series of presentations for its members, focusing on the kind of public arts projects they could engage with in 2010. BASA also had advice from a legal firm on "ambush marketing" and what the legal parameters were. She thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present their annual report.
Mr Gumbi thanked the Committee for their show of support. BASA intended to maintain the unqualified audit reports. The organisation was in a good position, with a strong CEO and Board. The Board members included people from the arts world as well as those from a business background. Instead of being a disadvantage, this mix had proved successful and ensured that the organisation was managed effectively. Board members were not paid and participated (in the organisation) because they were passionate about art.
The Chairperson stated that BASA should present a written response regarding the challenges it faced. He added that BASA should consider if there were legislative lacunae that impeded their work as Parliament had the ability to repeal, amend and create new legislation and could interact on these issues. The Committee could also assist BASA's interaction with the Department of Arts and Culture, as they had oversight of the Department. Broadly, he felt the meeting had been productive.
The meeting was adjourned.
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