After ten years as the CEO of Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), Michelle Constant will be pursuing other interests as of 1 March 2019. Her tenure has seen BASA achieve incredible successes and growth, and truly make a difference in the arts and culture sector in South Africa. Creative Feel, along with all of her colleagues, corporate partners and arts friends, wishes her well on her new ventures, which she will continue writing about here on a monthly basis.
Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) has uplifted, educated, inspired and celebrated millions of South Africans over the years. Its mandate is ‘to encourage mutually beneficial partnerships between business and the arts, contributing to corporate success and securing the future development of the arts sector in South Africa.’
At its core, BASA itself is a business and needs to be run as such. Finding a leader for such a business – someone who can work effectively with stakeholders in government, business, media and the arts, while running a tight ship back at the office – is no mean feat. In her ten years at the BASA helm, Michelle Constant has shown how it’s done.
‘A good CEO will always have a lot of balls in the air at the same time,’ says Carel Nolte, BASA board member who chairs the HR and marketing board committees. ‘I think that the CEO of BASA has more balls up there than most and, as a result, has to be exceptionally ballsy him/herself to set and drive the strategic objectives of the business.’
During Constant’s tenure, BASA has grown and improved relationships across its stakeholder base. These include the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), a diverse cross-section of corporate members, the creative sector, organisations within the Southern African region and a growing slate of project-specific partners.
‘Michelle’s role as a board member of SA Tourism, specifically focusing on cultural tourism, her regular show on SAfm, her writing for Creative Feel, Daily Maverick, Business Day and other publications, being made a Chevalier (Knight) des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government and, quite simply, her zest for life, means that BASA has benefited immensely through her leadership. We are delighted to celebrate the legacy she leaves and are excited by how our incoming CEO Ashraf Johaardien will build on this strong foundation with the superb team we have in place. Thank you, Michelle.’
‘Michelle helped to shift the BASA mindset to ensure research took centre stage in our strategy and operations,’ says Nolte. ‘This has allowed us to accurately monitor and evaluate support provided to the public sector, the level of arts-based intelligence created in the private sector, and access and agency grown through skills development for civil society arts.
‘There has also been a growth in staff numbers and skills in the past ten years due to the increase of programmes with a national and international footprint.’
Levels of participation and engagement with the arts in the corporate sector have also risen, which has led to an upward trend in the value of BASA Supporting Grants allocated.
‘In 2008, under Michelle’s leadership, BASA disbursed R1 809 500 in supporting grants, a figure that rose to R2 346 850 in 2018,’ says Nolte. ‘In addition, BASA has been able to leverage the DAC’s support to attract additional investments and partnerships for programme rollout and continued work to support the arts, and has achieved an 80% success rate in funding and tender proposals in recent years.’
But that’s not all, he says.
To read more about Michelle’s time at BASA, purchase the February 2018 issue of Creative Feel, or continue supporting our role in the arts and culture sector in South Africa by subscribing to our monthly magazine from R180 per year.