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Q&A with Kojo Baffoe

Adjudicating the 22nd Annual BASA Awards, partnered by Hollard

The BASA Awards highlight the artistic richness of South Africa, which can contribute to the real development of our society, says Kojo Baffoe, Chair of the Awards Adjudication Panel. Anne Taylor caught up with him, to ask him more about the judging process, and to delve into the evolving value of this annual awards’ ceremony.

Anne Taylor: The annual BASA Awards reward and promote excellence in the creative sector, which results from partnerships between business and the arts. Can you expand on how you think these kinds of partnerships can be mutually beneficial, and how they may influence creativity?
Koko Baffoe: The arts form a significant component of the soul of any society. They enrich in ways that go beyond the aesthetic and have a role in the development of communities and society. At the same time, art without the support of both the public and the private sectors will always fall short, from a development perspective. This is what I consider the critical aspect of the BASA Awards. The private sector is not only investing in the arts, but it is also doing so in a manner that ensures that the arts can grow and continue to make a tangible impact on the country and beyond it. When artists do not have to worry about how they can create art and can simply do art, it is a step in the right direction. The projects that are entered allow for this at different levels, in different ways.

AT: As chair of the Awards’ independent judging panel, can you share a little about how the process works and what you’ll be looking for from the entries (which span 11 categories), from the first-time sponsors to innovation?
KB: At the heart of the judging process is the impact of each entry and how the business and arts organisations have worked together to create something. We are quite detailed in our approach, considering sustainability, the nature of the partnership, reach, etc. Each judge goes through the entries and scores, and then we hold a deliberation session, where we share our thoughts on the top entries, before deciding on the winner. It is a transparent and open space.

AT: Winning a BASA Award means that entrants have made or have the potential to make meaningful contributions to South Africa’s creative economy. You are not only an editor, writer and DJ, but also a self-described entrepreneur. What is your take on the ways in which the arts can drive entrepreneurial strategy?
KB: There are a multitude of entrepreneurial opportunities within the arts but, in some instances, business needs to assist arts entrepreneurs who aren’t necessarily knowledgeable about the business side of the arts. By contributing to the different arts organisations – whether for profit or not for profit – business can ensure that they have the tools necessary to grow in a meaningful manner.

AT: This year, the BASA Awards will have been running for 22 years. It’s also your seventh year as part of the judging panel, and your second as its Chair. What significant changes or shifts have you seen in the past few years? And where do you think there’s the most potential for change or growth?
KB: The diversity of businesses involved in arts’ projects has increased over the years,  while those who have generally supported them continue to do so, which I think is important. Every year, I am enthused by the depth of the support and the variety of projects. One thing that has always stood out is how the partnerships are about real support, as opposed to merely doing it to ‘look good’ from a business perspective. More can always be done. More businesses can be involved. In terms of potential for growth, how long is a piece of string? There is an artistic richness in this country that can contribute to the real development of society and so there is always potential and opportunity.

AT: There are many awards open to creatives in South Africa. What is special about the BASA Awards, and what does winning one mean for both the Artists and the company?
KB: The BASA Awards are about how business partners with the arts, in all forms, to make an impact on society. The awards are about recognising and celebrating this and it is important that we do so, while still acknowledging and celebrating every business that contributes, and every artist and arts organisation that is working. Winning a BASA Award should confirm that the business and the arts organisation are on the right track, but we must also remember that this should not be the only reason a business gets involved.

Read more about the BASA Awards in our other articles:
The adjudication panel for the 22nd annual BASA Awards
New members appointed to BASA Board
Theme for BASA Awards pushes boundaries
Who designed the BASA Awards trophies?
BASA Awards 2019 Finalists
Q&A with Kojo Baffoe (Chair of the Awards Adjudication Panel)

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