Fourteen flourishing and innovative business and arts partnerships were last night (31 August 2009) lauded at the 12th Annual Business Day BASA Awards, supported by Anglo American.

The winners of South Africa’s most prestigious business-arts awards were announced at an event held at the forum | turbine hall in Newtown, hosted by performer, Nkoto Malebye. Speakers on the night were celebrated poet, performer, writer and speaker, Gcina Mhlope and the Minister of Arts and Culture, Minister Lulu Xingwana.

A highlight on the night came with the announcement of the Chairman’s Premier Award which went to the Field Band Foundation and its sponsors.

The Field Band Foundation is supported by a raft of business partners including De Beers, PG Group, PG Bison, Anglo American, Remgro/Venfin, Stefanutti Stocks, Investec, KPMG and Ogilvy in Durban and this business-arts partnership has seen it grow from a fledgling organisation to a strong imaginative and exciting initiative with a track record for youth development through music and dance, outside of the formal education sector.

The Award winner is chosen by the judging panel, and according to Judging Convener, Mr Gordon Cooke, the Field Band Foundation was “deserving of the award because it highlights the collaboration of sponsors, which is a model we can all learn from. It’s also a wonderful example of contributing to society bottom up – a vital model for developing societies as we go forward.”

The 2009 winners included several of South Africa’s biggest corporates, among them MTN which was named winner in the Single Project category for the South African Music Awards and Rainbow Chicken Ltd, for their support of the Catelina Theatre in the category of First Time Sponsor.

South Africa’s financial institutions were also recognised for their commitment in supporting arts projects: Standard Bank was the International Sponsorship winner for the Marlene Dumas’ Intimate Relations exhibition while First National Bank’s sponsorship of the Joburg Art Fair saw it a co-winner in the Increasing Access to the Arts category, sharing the award with Exclusive Book’s Ndodeni Library project.

“Our core business at Business and Arts South Africa is connecting diverse business and arts projects and highlighting the value for all,” said Business and Arts South Africa CEO, Michelle Constant. And the list of winners – encompassing a diverse and broad arts and business terrain – more than substantiates this.

Commented Business Day Editor, Peter Bruce, “Arts projects are so often overlooked in the fight for funding on the part of South African businesses, so what is so striking about the winners tonight is just how varied the funding relationship can be.

Whether it’s just giving of time as a mentor or using the arts as a brand flagship, there are so many different and exciting ways for business and arts to work together, and the awards really underscore that.”

The ability of businesses to play a meaningful role in the sustainability of arts projects in challenging economic times was not lost amidst the celebrations.

As Premilla Hamid, General Manager of Public Affairs at Anglo American said, “Anglo American congratulates all the winners and applauds those businesses who have partnered with arts projects around the country.

This is something that Anglo American feels passionate about and is committed to, even in difficult times like these and we hope many more businesses can join us and tonight’s winners and nominees on this rewarding journey.”

“The creative arts are a very serious business,” said guest speaker Gcina Mhlope. “Passion, unyielding dedication and focus are the most powerful building blocks for any successful business. The same goes for a thriving career in the arts and the beauty of it all is that if one enjoys what they do, hard work becomes their very nature and that leads to the manifestation of the old saying: work well done is love made visible!”

The diversity of winners was a true reflection of Business and Arts South Africa’s vision to take arts and culture projects from “seed to strength to sustainability” in partnership with South Africa’s business community.

ABSA triumphed on the night in the key Youth Sponsorship category for its support of the Addicted to Life project. The latter is a drug awareness community project designed to reach 30 000 high school children and educators in the Cape Flats through a school tour and a run at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town.

The Baxter Theatre Centre itself featured in the win by HCI Foundation for Sponsorship in Kind. Since 2002, the centre has received support in the form of a bus from Golden Arrow Bus Services as part of the HCI Foundation’s CSI programme, allowing the Western Cape schools to take learners to see set works or reduced price theatre shows at the Baxter Theatre, among other initiatives.

Another long-running project, The Little Artists School, was recognised by the 12th Annual Business Day BASA Awards, earning the Deutsche Bank the award for Long Term Sponsorship.

Now 10 years old, the Little Artists School is attended by children from two Hillbrow orphanages and the Deutsche Bank support has ensured permanent class room facilities where structured programmes can be implemented.

This year’s winners also prove that long-established businesses and small newcomers can significantly impact the sustainability of South Africa’s arts community.

Established in 1940, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Ltd (IDC) took home the award for Best Use of a Commission of New Art for the Mobile Exhibition, an innovative approach to highlighting the work of IDC-funded entrepreneurial projects.

Symfony Digital Solutions was named the winner in the Sponsorship by a Small Business category.

In the final three categories voted for by the judging panel, Strategic Sponsorship was won by the Sandton Business Improvement District and The Times earned the fiercely contested Media Sponsorship award for its Art Page. Barloworld Artworks Mentor of the Year, meanwhile, recognised the work of Gary Ninow for Umcebo Trust in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Yvette Nowell of Rand Merchant Bank for the Valued Citizen’s Initiative in the transference of vital business skills to these arts projects.

Winners and the Chairmans Premier Awards were selected by a prestigious panel of judges – CEO of the Constitution Hill Trust, Dr Ivan May; Loerie Awards MD, Andrew Human; playwright and director Welcome Msomi; co-founder and head of Vega School of Advertising, Gordon Cook; theatre and dance writer/journalist Adrienne Sichel; business entrepreneur, South Africa’s former High Commissioner to London and currently executive chairperson of Peotona Holdings, Cheryl Carolus; and, Mastrantonio Holdings CEO Giovanni Mariano. The results were audited by Grant Thornton, Johannesburg.

All the winners were given a beautiful artwork from the Keiskamma Art Project, an Eastern Cape-based project that is sponsored by Murray & Roberts Ltd and was a nominee in both the First Time Sponsor and Single Project categories.

The 12th Annual Business Day BASA Awards, supported by Anglo American winners are:

Best Use of a commission of New Art – Industrial Development Corporation for ‘Mobile Exhibition’

First Time Sponsor – Rainbow Chicken Ltd for the ‘Catelina Theatre’

Increasing Access to the Arts

First National Bank for the ‘Joburg Art Fair’

Exclusive Books for ‘Ndodeni Library’

International Sponsorship – Standard Bank for Marlene Dumas’ ‘Intimate Relations’

Long Term Development – Deutsche Bank Africa Foundation for ‘Little Artists’

Media Sponsorship – The Times for their ‘Art Page’

Single Project – MTN for the ‘South African Music Awards’

Sponsorship by a Small Business – Symfony Digital Solutions for ‘Chew Magazine’

Sponsorship in Kind – HCI Foundation for their support of the ‘Baxter Theatre Centre’

Strategic Sponsorship – Sandton Business Improvement District for ‘Sandton Central Arts Programme’

Youth Sponsorship – ABSA for ‘Addicted to Life’

Barloworld Artworks Mentor of the Year

Gary Ninow for Umcebo Trust

Yvette Nowell for Valued Citizen’s Initiative

Chairman’s Premier Award – Field Band Foundation

Source: Business and Arts South Africa