NAC Roundtables and Business Matchmaking initiatives

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NAC Roundtables and Business Matchmaking initiatives
NAC Youth Month Dialogue

Background

The National Arts Council (NAC), an agency of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC), embarked on a series of roundtable discussions with the broader arts industry, with a view of gaining insights into how it can create more impact through funding and ensure that up and coming arts practitioners are mentored in business matchmaking initiatives.

The themes for these dialogues have been prompted by the severe impact that Covid-19 and the resulting nationwide lockdown has had on our cultural and creative industries.

QUARTER 1 – JUNE

1.1 Youth Month Dialogue

Number of roundtable discussions 1
Date 30 June 2020 (Funding for Impact)
Platforms Zoom Online Platform
Number of participants 9
Discussion Theme How do we fund the arts for impact in the time of Covid-19?

Facilitator: Papama Mnqandi

Participants:

–   Khwezi Gule (Johannesburg Art Gallery)

–   Refilwe Nkomo (Visual Arts Network of South Africa)

–   Lekgetho Makola (Market Photo Workshop)

–   PJ Sabbagha (Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative)

–   Allan Horwitz (Botsotso publishing house)

–   Kim Berman (Artist Proof Studio)

–   Tebogo Sithathu (Independent Beneficiaries Forum)

–   Mandisi Sindo (Khayelitsha shack theatre innovator)

–   Nomazulu Taukobong (Rightbrain Factory)

From the National Arts Council:

–   Rosemary Mangope

–   Thola Phetla

–   Thando Ndlovu

Funding for Impact was the first webinar of this quarter, which took place on 30 June 2020 on the Zoom platform. It was broadcast live on Facebook for the broader arts community to access.

The discussions marked the beginning of a series of industry-wide consultations by the NAC as it embarked on a process of reflection to become more effective in fulfilling its mandate, which was wider than just disbursing grants. He furthermore observed that it was important to think about the sector in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals paradigm, where meaning and community took precedence over profit. “Creativity itself needs to take centre stage as an agenda.”

Ms Mangope said that the NAC was part of a broader arts and culture ecosystem, and that Covid-19 had thrust the industry into a space that required artists to be agile, fast and ahead of the curve. She said the industry had to be resilient, and reform and reinvent itself, much as it had always done.

Pointing out that “a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”, she said she hoped this series of conversations would bring the sector closer to understanding how best to invest in beneficiaries to sustain themselves and take others along with them. This would fulfil the NAC’s vision of “funding for impact”, she added.

She emphasised that much as it was important to transfer intergenerational knowledge, there was also a need to stay abreast of technology as a way for artists to connect to conversations. Ms Mangope said she hoped the NAC would emerge with a better understanding of how it could support its ecosystem in a more meaningful way.

Outcomes and recommendations

Embrace and explore new ways of thinking and doing as we adapt to the Covid-19 and post-Covid-19 reality

When assessing results and impacts of funding, the definition should be broadened beyond the scale of impact to how an initiative benefited the community (qualitative instead of quantitative)

Covid-19 offers the opportunity to reach marginalised audiences and those with limited access to technology through, for example, radio drama

Participants were keen for the NAC to play a facilitating role in several industry interventions, speaking on behalf of the sector, such as:

  • Create a national association of the arts to lobby for the sector and professionalise artistic practices
  • Enlist those with experience (such as auditors) to help grassroots organisations with financial statements and project plans
  • Use existing buildings such as community centres and libraries as hubs for arts education and audience development
  • Lobby for broadband infrastructure in such spaces
  • Engage with other government departments and economic sectors to explore synergies with and support for the arts
  • Encourage more collaboration within the sector, in addition to cross-sectoral collaboration
  • Lobby for ongoing state funding for the arts as a “public good” that fills gaps in areas that government departments neglect

Conclusion

Cross-sectorial collaboration and sustaining communities is important. NAC’s new funding model that uses five-pragmatic segments, as opposed to be disciplinary focused segments, fosters a world of cross-disciplinary collaboration. The pandemic is a disruption and an opportunity to equalise the discrepancies between communities. This quarter’s dialogue showed thought-leadership that is integral, pivotal, significant and totally necessary for the creative ecosystem.

Sistas in Dialogue: Intergenerational Dialogues

Date 14 August 2020
Platforms Zoom Online Platform
Number of participants 2
Number of business matchmaking initiatives 1
Discussion Theme How are today’s women artists addressing their rights and identities in a shifting political landscape?

 

Date 21 August 2020
Platforms Zoom Online Platform
Number of participants 2
Number of business matchmaking initiatives 1
Discussion Theme Is enough value attached to the work produced by women artists?
Date 28 August 2020
Platforms Zoom Online Platform
Number of participants 2
Number of business matchmaking initiatives 1
Discussion Theme How can women artists create and sustain successful personal brands?

Facilitator: Babalwa Shota

Participants

  • Dr Same Mdluli and Eve Bodirwa

Date held: 14 Augusts 2020 at 4pm

  • Khumo Tapfumanefi and Fortunate Mokgehle

Date held: 21 August 2020 at 4pm

  • Hayleigh Evans and Lungelwa Ntabazi

Date held: 28 August 2020 at 4pm

 From the National Arts Council:

  • Rosemary Mangope (Introduction at the beginning of each session)

Introduction

During Women’s month, a series of intergenerational dialogues and business matchmaking initiatives were held on the Zoom platform and broadcast live on the NAC’s Facebook platform (Facebook Live). This initiative took place from Friday 14 August to Friday 28 August 2020.

Facebook was chosen as the streaming platform of choice, due to cost effectiveness and its accessibility to our audience who were interested in participating in the dialogue.

Each week, we hosted engaging, frank and valuable intergenerational conversations for a minimum of 15 minutes between two women, who spoke about their experiences and learnings as art practitioners.

These dialogues were between an established older generation female as well as a young, aspiring and emerging generation of female arts practitioners.

A responsive discussion and Q&A session was hosted through Facebook’s Live Chat, making up a maximum of 35 minutes per session.

Themes

Themes were created to guide and frame the conversations and to give the participants the ability to prepare questions and responses.

Theme one: How are today’s women artists addressing their rights and identities in a shifting political landscape?

  • In the arts, our work often reflects or imitates the life we live in our communities or environments. How is our current environment (including life under Covid-19 and the financial difficulties associated with that) affecting the way in which we are producing art?
  • With shifting political landscapes, and women’s marches and movements such as #MeToo happening around the world, how are women artists addressing their rights and identities, in their work and beyond?
  • What are the current real-world experiences of our women artists? Are there moments of art life imitating real life OR real life imitating art?
  • How are our artists translating their current socio-political experiences and challenges into their work?
  • What does it mean today to be a woman in the arts in South Africa?

Theme two: Is enough value attached to the work produced by women artists?

  • What does value mean to you? What is valuable to you – money, recognition, acknowledgement, awards? How do South African arts consumers perceive and respond to the notion of value?
  • Is monetary recompensating of the most value to you?
  • Salary and wage disparities – what can we do to shift the status quo?
  • Is the work that we create afforded sufficient value by society and the market?
  • Broadly, how would you define the value of artists within any given society? What is their intrinsic “worth”?

Theme three:  How can women artists create and sustain successful personal brands?

  • What should the brand “women” encapsulate? Should there be a distinction between art produced by men and by women?
  • How can we build our personal brands as women in the arts?
  • Should we strive towards a collective brand as women arts practitioners (strength in numbers), or should we craft individual brands?
  • Is there any change from how women are branded – by themselves, and by outsiders – now than in previous years?
  • What expectations are there of women-led brands?

Set-up

The dialogues were conversational. They were structured in such a way that each participant would gain insights and learnings from each other’s worldview. As a result, each participant travelled in the world of arts through the perspective of other participants. The conversation encouraged a supportive environment for each artist’s journey in the sector.

NAC CEO, Ms Rosemary Mangope briefly introduced the dialogues in the first session.

Outcomes and Recommendations

There is a need for equality of women in society. Part of creating this equality is about acknowledging that women have been driving communities and have been creating work for a long time. It’s up to us, as a younger generation of women, to acknowledge and highlight the works of other women.

There needs to be an understanding that creatives need to start from somewhere and have to put in the work to reap the rewards.

Artists do not have to rely on galleries or established institutions but can create their own spaces to promote and further their creative endeavours.

Collaboration is important in uplifting one another in the creative sector. Other people’s proficiency can help you in areas that you are still developing.

The value of women artists/creatives, needs to come from within and mind-sets need to be changed in order to reduce the “pull-her-down” syndrome to make way for a sisterhood that pays-it-forward.

In this digital-age, creatives are valuable. It is important to transform spaces through art.

Personal branding helps others know who you are. If you know what your brand is, you are able to refine it, own it and know who your target market is.

Conclusion

Intergenerational dialogues are critical in strengthening women and the knowledge systems in society. These dialogues are a form of mentoring that help women grow and create value in their careers.

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