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Passionate CFO Steers NAC To Third Consecutive Clean Audit

The National Arts Council (NAC) has received its third consecutive clean audit, for its financial year ended 31 March 2017. This milestone in the NAC’s growth trajectory was achieved through the diligence and innovativeness of the NAC’s finance team, spearheaded by its passionate chief financial officer, Dumisani Dlamini.

“Clean audits do not simply happen, they are a culmination of dedicated and concerted efforts, all year round, by each individual working in or representing the organisation,” says Dlamini, 39, who was last year awarded the Young CFO of the Year and Public CFO of the Year awards at the prestigious CFO Awards.

Since joining the NAC in 2014, Dlamini has taken the public entity from strength to strength through sound financial management, tighter measures for corporate governance and a concerted drive towards teamwork, collaboration and instituting practical efficiencies that save costs and boost the NAC’s capacity to fulfil its mandate.

“The NAC has embarked on a modernisation process to streamline its operations for more efficient service-delivery. This is envisioned to impact all facets of the organisation, from the way in which members of the Board take resolutions, how panels access and assess applicants and the way financial and operational strategies are executed, to the manner in which staff members conduct themselves,” says Dlamini.

The modernisation process, as driven by Dlamini and members of the executive, aims to move the NAC forward in a pragmatic way that maximises resources and minimises leakages. This, according to Dlamini, is key in a tough economic environment that is characterised by uncertainty and increased fiscal constraints.

The NAC’s third consecutive clean audit coincides with its 20-year anniversary, and highlights that young public entities such as the NAC can indeed turn the tide towards greater effectiveness and change perceptions of the public sector.

“The knock-on effects of this from an economic standpoint are tremendous, where more streamlined services from the NAC begin to impact more meaningfully on the day-to-day lives of all its stakeholders, especially beneficiaries; and, as a result, contribute to sustainable economic growth,” says Dlamini.

According to Dlamini, the NAC aims to maintain its clean audit results by focusing on effective service delivery in the arts, culture and heritage sector, hence a concerted effort to ensure quicker turnaround times in processing funding applications and making payments to artists and arts organisations, which would, in turn, reflect an efficient organisation.

Women lead NAC into the future

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton once said that “women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world”. This, of course, is no understatement considering how women in all fields and spheres of politics and economics, have shaped the world and contributed to our betterment, growth and overall wellbeing.
Women lead NAC into the future

This past Women’s Month gave us an opportunity to reflect and take stock of our progress in terms of gender empowerment.

As a national government agency that promotes and contributes to socioeconomic development and empowerment, the NAC is at the forefront of tapping into the reservoir of excellence offered by South African women, in particular, those serving the organisation in leading roles. Three individuals who are worth mentioning as shining examples of leading women in the public service are NAC Deputy Chairperson Jabu Dlamini, Council member Erica Elk, and Arts Development Manager Julie Diphofa.

With qualifications in the humanities, education and project management, and having worked for the Department of Education for a number of years, Dlamini brings a passion for education, social development and creativity to the NAC Board, which she was appointed to in 2016. Given her vast experience and knowledge, there is no doubt that Dlamini’s influence on the NAC will be felt for years to come.

“Elk’s journey to becoming an NAC Council member is interesting by all accounts. A former studio assistant to world-renowned artist William Kentridge, Elk is a combination of practitioner, implementer and strategist and has won numerous awards in her own right for her contributions to the arts and creative business development. With qualifications in Fine Art from Wits University and the University of Cape Town her experience includes working as a media officer for the National Land Committee and project managing the masterplanning team for the Cradle of Humankind. In addition to her role as an NAC Council member, she also sits on the board of One City Many Cultures Festival; and is the founding executive director of the Craft and Design Institute.”

An avid reader and sports enthusiast, Diphofa currently performs one of the toughest roles at the NAC, that of Arts Development Manager, or, to put it simply, the person responsible for coordinating the NAC’s grant making function and implementing strategies related to that function. With 14 years’ experience at the senior management level, it’s no surprise that Diphofa has previously served as acting chief executive of the NAC. She lists her major accomplishments at the NAC as negotiating for the continuation of the South African-Norwegian Music programme, and leading the successful bid of the 2009 IFACCA World Summit on Arts and Culture.

“It is of critical importance to recognise the vast pool of talent we are currently blessed with at the NAC, especially those women in decision making roles who are leading the organisation to greater heights. It gives me great confidence and instills immense pride in me to be working with such quality individuals,” says NAC CEO Rosemary Mangope.

Zikulise enriches community

By now, most of us are probably aware of the old saying that goes: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” In essence, this adage highlights the importance and long-term viability of knowledge and skills sharing, and at its very core speaks to development and growth.
Zikulise enriches community

In the South African context, where poverty, unemployment and inequality are rampant, it’s somewhat comforting to know there are organisations out there that are acting on this profound saying.

Zikulise Community Upliftment Project is a non-profit company dedicated to the upliftment of the unemployed and impoverished community in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal. The organisation’s founder and executive director, Julie Jonson, says: “We focus on providing sponsored income-generating skills training to unemployed individuals, enabling them to become self-supporting and self-sustainable, thereby also adding to the local economic development of the region.”

According to Jonson, the costs for the training, which range from foundation and advanced courses in sewing and bead weaving to ceramics and baking, are covered by grants and donations made to Zikulise by sponsors. The NAC was the first funder of the project in 2004, which enabled it to get off the ground and register as a non-profit company in 2005. More than a decade later, the NAC again approved funding for the project in 2017.

“Zikulise develops and contributes to the South African arts landscape as its courses relate to traditional bead weaving, textile art and ceramics. Textile art includes working with fabrics (embroidery, embellishing and fabric painting) and grass weaving; and working with wool, yarn and recycled materials,” says Jonson.

One of Zikulise’s greatest achievements in terms of how its courses are structured is that they are all coupled with training in business skills. “The grant funding approved by the NAC for 2017 assisted Zikulise in providing seven young unemployed individuals valuable income-generating skills training in textile and bead art, coupled with business skills, over a period of one month. An incubation phase of one month was included and was also funded by the NAC. The total duration of the skills training is two months,” says Jonson.

With a strong emphasis on making products that are marketable, unemployed individuals from the local community received income-generating skills training via the NAC grant, and were also exposed to creating products that focused on design and innovation. Another important element, according to Jonson, was that the trainees were made aware of the importance of using recycled materials in creating their products.

The benefits of projects such as Zikulise are far-reaching and sustainable, and shed light on how skills training and knowledge sharing can lead to grass-roots development with an exponential and compounding effect. As an organisation with a mandate to promote socioeconomic development through the arts, the NAC is proud to be involved with Zikulise, as it gives expression and realises many of the values the NAC upholds and sees as crucial to a prosperous future.

Preserving heritage through the language of the soul

If music is the language of the soul, it might just be true that contributing to development through music is the soul’s expression. Music in South Africa, during our painful past and within our hopeful yet challenging present, is and has always been a constant salve for our wounds and call to action towards building a better future.

Enter Gauteng Music Development (GMD), an organisation committed to preserving, nurturing and respecting South Africa’s musical heritage by investing in the development of South African artists.

Founded by the late Victor Ntoni, GMD has, over the years, pioneered the production and transcribing of South Africa’s diverse traditional music to create scored music books and songbooks. Now in the capable hands of Linda Ntoni, GMD continues to blaze trails in preserving South Africa’s rich musical heritage while empowering local musicians.

“South African music touches every aspect of our lives through its diversity and it is absolutely essential and necessary to promote and preserve its existence in so-called modern society, which is fast delegating the traditions and cultures of Africa as primitive and insignificant,” says Linda.

According to her, the study of African music has somewhat taken a back seat to other African arts. “Music, in which is found the spiritual aspirations of a nation, and from which we can study the history and customs of our people, is the most neglected of African arts,” says Linda, adding that it is ironic that after 20 years of democracy in South Africa, there is no notated music book of African composers/musicians with the exception of those done by GMD.

Bit by bit, GMD aims to narrow this gap. “We intend to record on transcribed music scores the music compositions of various black South African composers and musicians,” says Linda, whose passion for South African and African music is undoubtable.

Linda believes that our customs, beliefs, traditions and aspirations are contained and transmitted through music. Critically, she asks: “Why is there no conscious and deliberate effort to invest time and money to the profound study and preservation of this our amazing and fascinating musical art? Unless something is done to collect and preserve African music while the time is still opportune, our African musical treasures will be lost.”

As a GMD funder since 2013, the NAC has been instrumental in recognising the importance of documenting African music. This contributes to the NAC fulfilling its mandate as well as its strategic objective to “develop and promote the arts and to encourage excellence in regards to these”.

Thus far, funding from the NAC has assisted GMD in producing the Victor Ntoni Music Book series, the African Folklore Music Book and the South African Songbook, among others. Linda lists the Mzansi Music Ensemble as an example of what funding from the NAC has helped GMD achieve. “The Mzansi Music Ensemble is an 18-piece big band with 10 voices. They performed the music of Victor Ntoni, Sandile Shange, Mongezi Feza, Busi Mhlongo and others from the sheet music scores transcribed by GMD,” says Linda. In 2015/16, the ensemble toured South Africa, performing in the country’s prestigious theatres. The tour culminated in the ensemble being invited by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation to perform at the birthday celebration of former president Thabo Mbeki at The Market Theatre in June 2016.

“I’d like to thank the NAC for believing in the project and enabling us to realise our vision,” says Linda.

CEO foreword, The Artisan

This edition of The Artisan comes at an interesting time, as we have just celebrated Women’s Month and Heritage Day.

These are two critical celebrations in a relatively young democratic country that is in the process of healing the wounds of its past while forging ahead with appropriate, equitable and sustainable socioeconomic development.

Part of the mandate of the National Arts Council (NAC) is to facilitate access to the arts for historically disadvantaged individuals, and foster the expression of a national identity and consciousness by means of the arts, cultural expression and heritage. These aspects are hardly considered when thinking of the NAC as a grant making agency, yet they ought to be central to informing how the NAC fulfils its grant making function, as it is only when redress and identity consciousness are considered that positive growth can be experienced and enjoyed.

The NAC gives expression to its full mandate through the various projects it is either directly or indirectly involved in. This is especially done in terms of promoting women empowerment both inside and outside the organisation, and by means of adopting a strong focus on social cohesion and nation-building, the latter being critical to preserving and creating awareness of South Africa’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. As you will read in this edition, the NAC entrusts much of its internal high-level functions and decision making to black women who are passionate about the arts and exposing South Africa’s arts, culture and heritage (ACH) sector to audiences and investors that extend far beyond our national borders. In this edition, we have also highlighted two exceptional initiatives that drive the promotion of our heritage and gender empowerment, Gauteng Music Development and Zikulise Community Upliftment Project.

Founded by the legendary Victor Ntoni, Gauteng Music Development has, over the years, pioneered the production and transcribing of traditional music, among many other exciting projects, as you will read. Zikulise is a non-profit company at the forefront of creating jobs through vital skills training. The organisation offers foundation and advanced courses in fields such as sewing, ceramics and bead weaving, among others. What makes all Zikulise courses compelling and essential to socioeconomic development is that they are coupled with business skills training.

These are two projects that clearly highlight the manner in which the NAC is engaging with the challenges faced by women, especially those who are previously disadvantaged, as well as the NAC’s commitment to elevating South Africa’s heritage to its rightful place as something to cherish, revere and learn from to make a positive and meaningful impact in the lives of many young South Africans. As I have certainly learnt from my experience as chief executive of the NAC, the ACH sector is inextricably linked to education, social change and economic development and is integral to creating an identity that is unique and robust.
The late, great Miriam Makeba said it best when highlighting the dynamism, timelessness and richness of culture and heritage: “…In my culture, the past lives. My people feel this way in part because death does not separate us from our ancestors.”

Enjoy the read.

Rosemary Mangope
CEO, National Arts Council