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Encore: Michelle Constant

Michelle Constant has been the CEO of BASA (Business and Arts South Africa) for the last decade. ‘A personal achievement for me during that time was receiving the French Chevalier des Arts et Lettres. I was deeply honoured and humbled. I am also grateful for the wonderful people – colleagues, DAC, private sector – I worked with,’ says Constant.

Business and Arts South Africa BASA Michelle Constant question answer q&aName three artworks that you love and why.
I don’t think I can right now. Creativity and art is about time, place, psychic colour and emotion. My response to specific work is intrinsically linked to where I am in that moment. I love that it asks as many questions as it answers. After all, to be human means to feel pain, joy, to play, to be challenged and the arts and creativity do this constantly. There are fashion designers, artists, performers, authors and more, who move me differently and daily. #ArtMovesMe

Name one artist you would love to meet.
Ai Weiwei, and also writer Haruki Murakami (sorry, that’s two).

What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished reading the latest Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore (Penguin Random House in South Africa.) As he says in a Guardian interview – his work appeals to readers in a time of chaos. ‘You have to go through the darkness before you get into the light.’ It is appropriate as I am also currently reading a book by psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas, Meaning and Melancholia: Life in the Age of Bewilderment (Routledge). Slowly the pieces of my personal life puzzle are making sense!

What is in your car’s CD player?
I listen to online music, online radio, podcasts and audiobooks. I do feel the need to slow down on all the ‘content’ though.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I am very thin skinned – both literally and metaphorically. I’d like this to change in 2019. How have the arts industries in South Africa changed over the last ten years? It’s certainly got more organised. I am impressed by the leadership and determination that I see in young creatives today. Name one thing you think would improve the arts and culture industry in South Africa. The creative sector needs to continuously be proactive and participate in society, engaging with all sectors.

What is your most treasured possession?
My family and friends are the treasures of my life.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Negativity, lack of curiosity, lack of passion, lack of humility and the inability to laugh and play.

What is it that makes you happy?
Surfing, travelling, trail running, kayaking, snorkelling, walking, meditating, reading, laughing.

Describe a defining moment in your life.
Deciding to take on the BASA position shifted everything I knew and understood with regards to my professional place in the world. It has been life-changing and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity.

What projects will you be busy with during 2019 and into 2020?
Right now I can only offer the usual ‘watch this space’. I believe strongly in South Africa and what we have to offer as citizens of the world, so my work will certainly take that journey.

Name one goal you would like to achieve in the next twelve months.
I’d like to learn how to make a pavlova or baked Alaska.

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