A new Comite des Amis (Friends of IFAS) has been appointed to assist the French Institute of South Africa.
‘It is essential that France strengthens its interaction and consultation with key players in various sectors of South African society,’ says French Ambassador HE Elisabeth Barbier regarding the establishment of the Friends of IFAS (the French Institute of South Africa). According to Mandie van der Spuy, who has had a long association with IFAS over many years and who has been asked to serve as the committee’s first Chairman, ‘the French Institute felt that closer insight and advice would be beneficial to reach a greater understanding of their South African audiences and stakeholders. The committee is tasked not only to advise on measures to improve marketing practices and expand audiences but to provide an external and objective opinion on IFAS’s activities as well as to broaden its networks.’ ‘It is a consultative committee, of an advisory nature,’ she emphasises. ‘It cannot dictate in any way to the management of the Institute, nor does it become involved in the day-to-day running of the organisation or in any major decisions that need to be made.’ The committee members have been selected carefully to represent as broad a range of endeavour as possible, in order to assess IFAS’s programming from different perspectives. Members may also be asked to provide input and counselling on more general matters be they legal, academic, media or business related. ‘I am indeed honoured to have been asked by the Ambassador and the Director of IFAS to steer this committee in its inaugural phase. It is precisely the diversity of backgrounds and expertise as a group of South Africans involved in all spheres of society that is necessary to assist IFAS in keeping abreast of developments that may have an impact on its activities,’ Van der Spuy said. The committee comprises eleven members, all on a voluntary basis, with the French Ambassador as Honorary President represented by the Cultural Counsellor or the Director of IFAS. In addition to Van der Spuy, the members of the Friends of IFAS are Philip Botha (lawyer), Michelle Constant (CEO of BASA), Prof Federico Freschi (Executive Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture of the University of Johannesburg), Mandla Langa, (author and journalist), Percy Mabandu (journalist), Pansy Mekwa (General Manager: Strategy at Total South Africa), Thabo Molefe (radio/TV presenter and DJ), Jackie Motsepe (Chief Operations Officer at KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission), Elinor Sisulu (author), and Nicholas John Tee (lawyer and President of Alliance Française of Johannesburg).