Awards serve an important function in the lives of artists. They can help to kickstart one’s career, pave the way for future work, or simply serve as an acknowledgment of the outstanding work that’s been put into the making of an artwork or performance.
Each year, the Standard Bank Ovation Awards recognise the best of the National Arts Festival (NAF) Fringe – works that stand out for a variety of reasons that leave a lasting impression on the judges, from being an audience-pleaser to showcasing talent and technical skill. Standard Bank Ovation Awards are awarded throughout the Festival, and works that have been awarded bear the Ovations stamp on their digital windows as a signal to audiences that they are watching an award winner.
At the close of the Festival, the awards emerge from this pool and receive Gold, Silver or Bronze Standard Bank Ovation Award recognition. Gold Standard Bank Ovation winners are awarded a cash prize of R10 000, Silver Standard Bank Ovation Award winners are given R5 000 and Bronze Standard Bank Ovation Award winners take home R2 500.
This year saw Standard Bank continuing their dedicated support of the arts by once again backing the Ovation Awards for a host of outstanding works on the NAF’s Virtual Fringe platform.
The 2021 panel was convened by Princess Mhlongo who said, ‘As a former Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year and Ovation Winner, it has truly been a great honour to be part of the Standard Bank Ovations team as coordinator of the winners’ selection process. It has been a trying time in the world but seeing the fight and determination in the work presented by artists speaks volumes for the future of the arts in our country. A huge congratulations to the NAF team for being consistently present and continuing to be the voice of the artists. It is never an easy task choosing the best out of a pool of outstanding works representing change and progress, however, this year displayed courage that I believe will bring forth hope for those who may still need the strength to go on.’
Speaking to Creative Feel after the 2021 NAF, Mhlongo explained that, with the NAF now in it’s second year of hosting a fully virtual Festival, the quality of work on the vFringe was noticeably more comfortable with the virtual format, which lead to more daring and innovative works.
‘I think that especially with theatre, a lot of artists found a comfortable position from which to work with the medium, with the technology,’ said Mhlongo. ‘They were more settled, more daring, and taking more risks which I found very interesting to see, especially with artists who you know have always worked in traditional theatre spaces and have now had to make that change to online.’
Standard Bank Extends its Support of Artists
In addition to the Ovation Awards, long-time Festival partners, Standard Bank, recognised that it was a particularly tough year for artists and launched an exciting participatory campaign to support artists at the Festival. The Bank of Dreams calls for members of the public to submit messages of support for artists to an online portal. Each message is backed by real cash from Standard Bank with the goal of harvesting 3 700 messages to match the 37 years Standard Bank has partnered with the National Arts Festival. The accumulated cash value of the 3 700 messages would be R 500 000 which would then be distributed to the artists on the National Arts Festival Fringe this year. Arts lovers can visit arts.standardbank.co.za to dedicate their message and get behind the Fringe artists.
Speaking at the event, Desiree Pooe, Head of Sponsorships for Standard Bank reminded audiences of the incredible challenges artists have overcome to perform at this years’ Festival, not to mention the short timelines.
‘Artists, and others in the background were made to build the proverbial plane in flight, the challenges, dedication and sacrifices do not go unnoticed,’ said Pooe before adding said that, ‘Since introducing the Standard Bank Ovation Awards in 2010, they have been instrumental in spotlighting the stand out talent on the Fringe and have contributed to propelling the careers of many artists and productions who have received them.’ Pooe went on to congratulate all the winners of 2021 Standard Bank Ovation Awards.
The 2021 Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners are:
- Initiation by Is’Thatha Dance Project
- Verloren by Spark in the Dark
- The Core by AFDA Johannesburg
- Wet & Dry by Cia Paraladosanjos
- Mobile Inertia by Siphumeze Khundayi
- Ruth by Love and Race Productions
- Torinaoshi by Tsukuba Indy (LLC)
- (extra) ordinary, (un) usual by F Creations
- Old Soul Waiting by Mabu Art Foundation
- Buya by Mathetha Dances
- DE|COMPOSITION by Response-Ability/Revolution Movement
- Dear Donald, Dear Hillary (Their Secret Correspondence) by Sally Vahle
- The Joy of Symphonic Music – Concert 2 by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lykele Temmingh
- Umhlaba Ophezulu/Higher Ground by Iva Collective
- Liminal – Documentary by Joy Film Productions
- Dipalo_The Audio Version by Assitej SA
- Acapella Street Corners by Chamber Ensemble