Following the final ACT | UJ Arts & Culture Conference Pitch Perfect battle on 13 April, two groups have each been awarded grants to realise their proposed creative projects. ‘Cultural Exchanges’ and ‘An Artistic Excursion’ hailing from Mpumalanga and Limpopo respectively, are the groups that came out tops.
Sponsored by the National Arts Council (NAC), the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) and Nedbank Arts Affinity, a total of R160 000 has been made available to the two innovative interdisciplinary projects, which were developed during the BASA Hatchery sessions at the two-day #creativeintersections conference. Over and above the R80 000 from the NAC, ACT and Nedbank Arts Affinity, BASA announced a valuable Supporting Grant boost of R20 000, towards the Cultural Exchanges project.
Pitch Perfect judge and BASA CEO, Michelle Constant, was especially taken by Mpumalanga’s ‘Cultural Exchanges’ project, which aims to provide alternative and enriching entertainment for rural youths through an outdoor cinema. This project was born three years ago, and then further developed in the BASA Hatchery sessions at the recent #creativeinstersections conference.
“This project is a wonderful winner on a variety of levels,” says Constant. “Firstly it has been tested successfully and will now be moving into its second iteration with an eye on scaling and sustainability. Given that Nedbank is a long-time member of BASA, and a real partner in the arts, supporting and growing projects through its Arts Affinity Card, we decided that a Supporting Grant on what they are currently offering, promises even greater value to, and marketing for, the project ‘Cultural Exchanges’.”
The winning projects, as well as the other four finalists, will also receive incubation mentorship from the Cultural Development Trust, with the Royal Netherlands Embassy, who aim to groom start-up cultural entrepreneurs, to become sustainable by assisting them with establishing a duly registered entity while providing training, mentorship and expert advice in the field of arts and culture management and entrepreneurship.
At the final Pitch Perfect event, held at the UJ Arts Centre, six groups battled it out for one of the development grants. Fellow judge and ACT Programmes Coordinator, Karabo Legoabe, says all those who pitched did so impressively. “They were all thought through and covered some serious gaps in the community,” she says.
Molebogeng Sebidi, the ‘Cultural Exchanges’ representative, says the group is ecstatic about their win. “We have been waiting for an opportunity like this for the past three years and we are grateful to have found it,” she says. “This grant provides us with the opportunity to introduce, maintain and cultivate arts in rural parts of the country.” Through their outdoor cinema they hope to keep the youth out of places like shebeens and instead “educate and entertain through strategically chosen content”.
Fellow winners, ‘An Artistic Excursion’, will also use their grant to enrich the lives of local youths. Spokesperson for the group, Kagiso Kekana explains that they hope to tackle social issues through artistic outings. “The main objective of this project is to familiarise and expose the arts industry to a group of young artists from Limpopo,” says Kekana. “The excursion will run through a course of a few days. The group will take a tour to art hubs and historic art sites such as Museum Africa, The Market Theatre, and other institutions and art organisations, while engaging in motivational talks with various industry professionals.”
She says the group believes this project will enhance their local artists’ talents, as mentorship and first-hand experience are cornerstones of their agenda.
And while only two groups walked away with grants, all left with sage advice from the judges. The importance of pitching was especially touched on; all in attendance were reminded that even in tough economic climates, pitching is paramount to securing funding. They also reminded the six groups that one must always be mindful of the funder or sponsor receiving the information, while simultaneously being cognisant of the audience. Another important consideration from the judges, was that funders take kindly to self-involvement or investment in a project, as it endorses the team’s commitment to their work. A final thought from the panel was to always be respectful of the project’s existing funders and consider working together to find a suitable partner when scouting for other investors.
Excellent pitching, worthy advice and creative ideas were the backbone of the final Pitch Perfect event, now #creativeintersections are sure to envelope Limpopo and Mpumalanga thanks to these two worthy, winning projects.
The 2016 ACT | UJ Arts & Culture Conference, which took place at the UJ Arts Centre at the University of Johannesburg on 16 and 17 March 2016, was presented by ACT and UJ Arts & Culture, in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy Programme, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) and SAMRO Foundation with support from the NAC, Nedbank Arts Affinity, and Creative Feel Magazine.
To stay up to date with information and opportunities, visit www.creativeconference.co.za.
Author: Gilly Hemphill
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