Columns 23.8.2016 04:00 pm

Have an idea that can heal a nation

Sibusiso Mkhwanazi

Sibusiso Mkhwanazi

But first, you need a business to back your creative idea.

One of the things that I get to do in my downtime is to watch documentaries about how stuff is made or built. This is behind-the-scenes footage of, for example, how buildings are erected, how bombs are detected in war-torn countries and even how jelly powder is manufactured. This might seem a little boring to you who is all about the final product, but not to me.

A behind-the-scenes view allows you to take the effort and precision that goes into the manufacturing of any object. I guarantee you that as you take this column in your smartphone or tablet or computer, I would rather learn about how it was made, the people who programmed it and how much money was spent just to allow you to log on to a website.

I feel just as passionately about businesses who operate in the background, ensuring that the arts and culture fraternity continues to make a positive difference in all of our lives. Wifey and I attended the 19th Business and Arts South Africa (Basa) Awards nominations, where businesses are recognised for the resources they pump into the space.

Of course, it is great witnessing Supreme Divas at the Mandela Theatre, or I See You at the Market Theatre, Waiting for Godot at the Cape’s Fugard and even Defending The Planet at East London’s Elizabeth Sneddon. What the average audience member does not realise is just how critical the backing of businesses in the arts really is. Did you know that the funny guys at Nando’s also back the arts? Or that Nedbank is hugely involved in cultural tourism? Or that the Gordon Institute of Business Science backs the South African Fine Art Print Fair?

Granted, as a journalist, I get to take in a whole lot more arts and culture than the average person, but each time I see artists on stage, or interview a director or speak to a producer about an idea she has, the topic of financial backing always – and rightly so – comes up.

Can you imagine having an idea that can heal a nation, or make people laugh or make us see ourselves through different eyes, but cannot fulfil it because of backing? Companies spend so much more money on frivolous things, like Christmas parties where people photocopy their bums, instead of investing into something a little more substantial.

It is impossible to list all the nominees for the Basa awards, but it is possible to thank all of them for the great work they do. Next time I have to open a bank account, or buy a soft drink, I will think twice about the brand I choose, just as a small token of my appreciation.

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