Business & Arts is a monthly column by Ashraf Johaardien, an award-winning playwright, performer and producer. He is the CEO of Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), and a PhD candidate with the Unit for Creative Writing, University of Pretoria.
I was asked to speak at the unveiling of ‘Resurgence’ at Henley Africa on the topic of ‘Why Business and Arts are a match made in Heaven’. I kicked off by pointing out that they are not. Business and arts are often uneasy bedfellows, but not because they are opposites. They are just positioned at different points of a spectrum. The historically unidirectional flow between business and the arts has created a sense that arts are somehow hat-in-hand, reliant on business and government with little or nothing to offer in return. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to the World Economic Forum, creativity will be one of the top three skills needed in business by 2020. The health, productivity and lifestyle benefits linked to creativity are also well-documented. Yes, there is an inherent tension at the core of any business and arts relationship. Changing economic conditions have increased the pressure on business to justify the value and benefit of expenditure. In the final analysis, most kinds of partnerships are dangerous because all collaboration involves elements of risk and of trust. So then why does anyone collaborate? Why do business and the arts partner?
One of the episodes of Brain Games (National Geographic) explores risk as its theme. In the opening, the host Jason Silva comments that there is a reason why casinos are one of the most popular forms of entertainment on the planet. And it’s because your brain loves the rush that it gets when you’re taking a risk. But not everyone likes casinos. In fact, most business strategies seek out how best to mitigate or, even better, eradicate, risk. Which is where Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) comes in.
Mutually beneficial partnerships are hardwired into BASA’s DNA and are a part of its founding ethos. We believe in the power that comes from deep collaboration between the right partners and the transformational value of the arts to effect meaningful social change. BASA champions business investment in the creative sector by leading research that enhances commercial confidence. BASA builds capacity through its programmes and is shifting the paradigm for the future of partnerships between diverse stakeholders.
To continue reading, purchase the July 2019 issue of Creative Feel or, to continue supporting our role in the South African arts and culture sector, subscribe to our monthly magazine from only R180.00 to R365.00 per year!