On Monday 26 August 2013, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) held their 16th Annual Awards ceremony at the Johannesburg City Hall in the city centre. BASA is renowned for choosing wonderful venues for its annual award ceremonies, taking their guests on a journey of discovery, or for me in last night’s event – a journey of memories.
The Johannesburg City Hall, commissioned in 1910 and designed by Mattheus Meischke (who also designed the Rissik Street Post Office) from the Cape Town firm Hawke and McKinlay, is part of Johannesburg’s architectural heritage, built in the distinctive, 19th-century, classic city hall style, with porticos and high-domed towers. The four-storey, sandstone building proudly displays it colonial architectural style. It was completed in early 1915, the same year the Johannesburg Art Gallery was completed.
The Johannesburg City Hall was declared a national monument in 1979 and has been recently restored. I attended symphony concerts in that hall on many an occasion, and later there were still special concerts held there, notably Richard Cock’s Last Night of the Proms, various choral concerts and, of course, organ concerts. The City Hall has a marvellous pipe organ which was at one stage the largest in the southern hemisphere. The City Hall organ is apparently now just barely playable and is badly in need of restoration. It is still very beautiful and made a great back drop for the evening’s entertainment, provided for us by the Mzansi Youth Choir, the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra under the baton of Richard Cock and Shane Cooper. The MC was Azania Mosaka. Part of this fabulous entertainment was a choral work commissioned especially for Anglo American who have been sponsors of the BASA Awards for ten years now. The good news is that as Anglo American bows out of this sponsorship, Hollard Insurance buys into it. Business Day is another sponsor and Peter Bruce says that these awards are the best thing in Business Day’s calendar.
The purpose of the evening was to acknowledge those businesses who have made a huge difference to the arts by sponsoring various projects. In my mind it never makes any difference who wins these awards because the real winners are the people of South Africa who get to enjoy the arts because of the sponsorship of the businesses. The various artists who benefit from the projects, and doubtless the businesses who win them, are not quite as expansive. The artists see an award for the business as an award for themselves.
All through the evening I had been tweeting about the event. Now as the awards are made there is no time. The MC gets through the awards in a business-like way (wish more awards ceremonies did likewise) and all I have time to do is retweet the BASA tweets.
The Innovation Award went to PPC Ltd for Re-Imagine Concrete: Suzaan Heyns Spring/Summer 2012. She incorporated concrete into clothing. I kid you not!
The First Time Sponsor Award went to the Bidvest Group Limited for the Opening Ceremony of the new Wits Art Museum (the venue used for last year’s awards). The Increasing Access to the Arts Award went to the Johannesburg Development Agency for the Diepsloot Public Artworks Programme.
The International Sponsorship Award went to the Norwegian Band Federation for the Field Band Foundations – Bands Crossing Borders.
The Long Term Partnership Award supported by Stephan Weltz & Co went to ArcelorMittal South Africa for Southern Guild Collectable Design Gallery. The Arts & Environment Award, supported by Nedbank went to the uMngeni Municipality for the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. The most visible aspect of the project is the large sculpture by Marco Cianfanelli. Google it if you are not already aware of this magnificent work. This was the award which received the most enthusiastic applause of the evening so I suspect that it is a very well known project. The Media Sponsorship Award went to Ukhozi FM for the Unyaka Wesethembiso Season 2.
The Single Strategic Project Award went to Adidas Originals South Africa for ART JOBURG. The Small Business Award went to the Alexander Bar and Cafe for the Alexander Upstairs (Cape Town). The Sponsorship in Kind Award went to Europcar for Clowns Without Borders South Africa.
The Youth Development Award went to Sasol Limited for the South African National Youth Orchestra and even one of their competing nominees admitted to me that it was a well-deserved win. This category had two winners, the second being Rand Merchant Bank for the Durban Music School. So music was very much the winner of this category.
The Mentor of the Year Award, supported by Etana Insurance went to Hilton Lawler for Assemblage.
The three special awards were then made. The Embassy of France was given an award entitled Diplomacy in the Arts for their magnificent France-South Africa Seasons. The Art Champion Award went to Jack Ginsberg and the Chairman’s Premier Award went to Distell Foundation.
All that was left was for guests to spend the rest of the evening enjoying the hospitality, networking and socialising. As the guests left we were each given a set of posters reflecting the award design for the 2013 Awards Ceremony. Another fabulous evening put in place by Michelle Constant, CEO of BASA and her team. Well done, BASA, on a great event!