Helping creatives grow in the right spaces
Last night, Basha Uhuru opened up their doors to the media and announced some of the headliners for their long-awaited annual arts festival. The line-up, shown below, includes a variety of artists from contemporary folk-singers like Msaki, soulful R&B musicians like Langa Mavuso and hip hop heads like Khuli Chana and Riky Rick. While the announcement certainly managed to stir up some excitement amongst the crowd, yesterday’s media launch wasn’t just about publicising the festival’s performers. In celebration of 25 years of creative freedom in South Africa, the launch was also about encouraging discussions on how to help young black South Africans grow and succeed in the creative economy.
Let’s face it, the difficulties of being a young black creative in South Africa are plenty. Many are faced by naysayers in their communities who tell them that being an artist is not a real job, others are held back by their lack of access to to the right networks and some live in fear of being exploited by big corporations. Panelists from yesterday’s launch, which included representatives from Brand SA, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), Nando’s SA and Gauteng Propellers, spoke about the importance of helping young people deal with the challenges they face as creatives.
“What’s exciting about this year is that we’re focusing on a three-day creative conference where we’ll be having workshops and talks that are really aimed at sharing skills with our creative youth and the creative industry,” says Kirstie Niehaus, Art Sponsorship Manager at Nandos.
The strongest message that came out of Basha Uhuru’s media launch was the urgent call to recognize South Africa as a melting pot of creative energy and creative artists. So many young people in the country are aware of their creative talents, but many of them struggle to turn their artistic talents into profitable value for themselves. With the creative economy already contributing over R90 billion to the country’s GDP, it’s incredibly important for young black creatives to learn how to hone their skills and be active members of this creative economy.
“Artists and creatives have been a part of shaping who we are now. They’ve been doing it. Perhaps what we haven’t been doing as well as we are trying to do now is collaborating with the artists and recognizing the work that they’re doing,” says Toni Gumede, Brand SA’s Strategic Relationship Manager.
Our history shows us that creativity in Africa has always been a valuable resource. When we think of how structures during apartheid sought to mute creative voices in South Africa, or how African art was looted by Europeans, we not only begin to see the value of our creativity but also the ways in which those events damaged our creative freedom. Even today, our artistic influences can be seen in popular culture and music videos that go viral online. It should go without saying then that spaces where young people’s creativity is being encouraged and nurtured is extremely important.
“Let’s not undermine the role of creatives in further advocating for the future. The struggle is not the same but there certainly is a struggle still. At Brand South Africa we have a program called Play Your Part… It’s a trade off type of relationship [between us and creatives] and less of a commercially transactional relationship. It’s us saying let’s share spaces to shine light on you [as creatives] and you do the same for South Africa,” says Gumede.
While celebrating our creative freedom, it’s vital that talks around growing and sustaining creativity among young black people continue. One of the ways we can do this is by connecting young creatives with brands and companies that are looking to promote their interests.“[Basha Uhuru] is about celebrating the partnerships that can be successful between corporates and the arts and to see how those partnerships can actually work… Business and the arts can come together,” says Aviwe Matandela, Business and Manager and Client Liason of Business and Arts South Africa.
To learn more about the Basha Uhuru festival which takes place from the 26th until the 29th of June, please click on the link here