On 6 May 2022, Brandhill Africa Group hosted an inspiring webinar in order to explore the role of trade and investment promotion in advancing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
The programme directors were the gracious Thabiso Sikwane, a seasoned broadcaster and published author, as well as Dr. Nimrod Mbele who is a presenter on Chai FM.
After the welcome address by Sisa Njikelana, CEO of Sinakoyoli Consulting, Saul Molobi, the Group CEO and Chairman of Brandhill Africa shared a background on how the African Continental Free Trade Agreement was progressing.
There are many lessons to be learned from the European Union and the private sector will be the key driver of change through the development of infrastructure and reliable business networks across the African region.
Brandhill Africa Group’s ambitious goal is to position Africa as a viable investment destination. Currently, out of 100 of the most admired brands in Africa, 13% are African. 47 out of 54 African countries have a GDP that is lower than the Gauteng Province. Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, the DRC and South Africa are stronger in their economic outlook compared to other African countries. With a contribution of 2% to the global economy, Africa, a haven when it comes to land, can use its raw materials to advance trade for the benefit of Africans.
This coupled with a strong network of internationally competitive businesses owned by Africans in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing and technology industries would lead to a prosperous Africa for generations to come. We should build champions in each field through quality wholistic education, leadership with integrity and patriotism.
As Professor Tshilidzi Marwala advised in Leadership lessons from books I have read, we should train our leaders to be competent and incorruptible.
The Gauteng Cultural and Creative Industries Growth Strategy is a follow up to the Creative Industries Indaba that took place on 23 and 24 April 2019. This is where an update to the 2005 Gauteng Creative Industries Development Framework was requested.
On 14 June 2021, Kgomotso le Roux was confirmed as the project manager to IKS Cultural Consulting, a program management and research firm commissioned by the Department of Sport Arts Culture and Recreation to summarise various planning and coordination documents within the department, in the national and global context of the creative economy.
As Dr. Jerry Mofokeng wa Makhetha would say, the creative economy is about the value linked to a unique expression of creativity through heritage, performance art, music, market platforms, craft, visual art, theatre, film, publishing, media, tourism, sport, animation, architecture and design. These are the key stakeholders we had to engage in re-building the strategy for the department.
Since the kickoff meeting on 19 June 2021, the Gauteng
Cultural and Creative Industries Growth Strategy discussion document was
drafted by a team of IKS Consultants. When the country’s lockdown was adjusted
to level one, the department requested that we present the strategy in the 5
regional corridors of Gauteng.
We partnered with the Constitution Hill’s Creative Uprising Hub, the South African Creative Industries Incubator, the Mogale City, Sedibeng, Emfuleni and City of Ekurhuleni municipalities to organize the road show. From the 19th till the 30th of November, we hosted meetings in these regions, a consultative approach that shed light to core needs from the creative worker perspective.
The department’s vision for Gauteng is to produce an active, creative and modernized city region contributing to sustainable economic growth and social cohesion. This vision was not contested during the consultation meetings involving more than 370 participants.
The mission and core values expressed during the consultative meetings were around #normalisingaccess.
Whether you are
based in the township, city center or in the rural parts of Gauteng, policies
must be amended to enable access to:
Local and international marketing programmes for quality South African owned creative goods and services
Physical spaces that are well managed by skilled people who have experience in managing creative organisations.
Data for digital spaces to create awareness for Gauteng based brands and build relations with customers
Independently published regular information about education, training, mentorship, and opportunities for artists, cultural and creative entrepreneurs at all levels of the value chain
A united network of creative economy regional collectives for collaboration, consumption and experimentation
The allocation of funds towards incentives for private companies who take the risk on using the services of a creative black owned business over a long term and not just as a once off business opportunity
The creative economy network should advocate for policy change with regard to the status of the artist to shift away from the charity case, freelancer, independent contractor status in South Africa.
Our goals need to be measurable, specific in terms of financial objectives and time bound. 5 years from now, will you and your organisation be ready in case another pandemic hits?
Here are some images by Pia Fronia from the event in Austria where Michaela performed songs from Unoyiwawa’s Birth, a story about a South African superhero who was born into a family of rainmakers in Nqu qarib.
When music and storytelling is at the core of spiritual expression and healing, collaboration is key in achieving harmony. It doesn’t matter what race, creed, gender or status you have in life. What matters more is whether through the arts you are able to achieve understanding from another person’s perspective and not just your own.
My late mentor (may her beautiful soul rest in peace), Neno, taught me that in the midst of a war, what will carry you through is not revenge. Peace is our saving grace. Those who strive for material gain will continue to do all they can to acquire this at all costs.
Those who strive to achieve mutually beneficial relationships will be in action to communicate with respect, compassion and humility.
The jazz ecosystem across the globe is imploding. Amersfoort Jazz Festival, celebrating its 42nd birthday in 2020, 15-year old partner JazzNL and IKS Cultural Consulting joined forces at the annual World Jazz Conference to assess this situation and explore ways to help the international jazz community survive.
On Friday, November 20, the Conference kicked off its first ever online edition, bringing Amersfoort and Johannesburg into the same room. With streaming studios built in both cities and attendants such as Gail W. Boyd and Sylwester Ostrowski checking in from all over the world, 10 laureates from several participating countries presented their music online. None other than Wynton Marsalis himself delivered the opening statements for this edition, voicing his understanding and support for the troubles our community faces.
Over 250 jazz enthusiasts joined the livestream as spectators.
Almost every participant opted out of using
a slideshow type of presentation during the conference, maintaining an open and
interactive discussion and keeping our stories relatable for all attendees –
delegates, jazz enthusiasts and musicians alike. Whether intentional or not,
this aspect of our first online edition highlighted the organization behind
Amersfoort Jazz as a musicians’ festival: everyone is allowed their space to
let their voice be heard.
In short: the organization behind WJC has proven to be ready for the future. And what a future it will be.. with coronavirus ruining the 2020 festival summer and uncertainty still being widespread, how do we proceed? How do we make sure our community survives this crisis together and how can we make sure that we all emerge alive and kicking when it’s over? Determining a vision for the future was key for this year’s conference program. But, that vision did not come from thin air. IKS in collaboration with Kgomotso le Roux from Khwela Factory conducted extensive research among festival organizers and promoters across the globe and compiled the World Jazz Festival Network Impact Survey Report, trying to pinpoint past, current and future scenarios for our community.
Starting out with the thought that crossed pretty much every jazz cat across the world’s mind over the last nine or so months, the first question was: ‘What the %$#^* just happened?!’ followed by ‘And what do we do now?!’. As jazz musicians and enthusiasts, we understand the power of improvisation – flexibility and resilience is in our nature. But we cannot brave this storm alone. We need help, but as it turns out, relief systems are as similar as they are different in every country.
Williams, of The Artivist in Johannesburg, SA
stated that the coronacrisis allowed his organization to engage with his
government, where previously they were deemed too small to be a sparring
partner. Now, they work together to seek relief and craft long-term solutions
towards recovery, providing a potential positive takeaway for the future. Alexander Beets, our Amersfoort Jazz
Festival director, explained that The Netherlands has made a whopping 780
million euros available so far, but that the government relies heavily on
trickle down economics for that money to actually make it into any musician’s
wallet. The result of this approach is that only a very small percentage of
that sum actually helps to make a difference in any musician’s life.
Delegates from Australia and Thailand, for
example, said that relief systems in their respective countries are still very
much a work in progress. While the efforts of any government to protect their
cultural sector is of course commendable, that provides for a very uncertain
situation for musicians. In the US and India, most support comes from private
and corporate sectors.
matters into your own hands
Jazz musicians are generally not the type
to wait around for something to happen. Why wait for someone to light your fire
when you can initiate combustion? That attitude is very much alive among our
delegates as well. Dutch saxophonist and educator Ben van den Dungen gathered a team around himself and presented the
National Podium Plan, allowing Dutch jazz and world musicians to apply for
funding when they have otherwise been deemed ineligible.
He has an enthusiastic ally in Anita
Verheggen of Kunstenbond and Sena Performing Arts Fund, who is rallying
with 42 organizations in the Dutch creative sector to advocate change and
political support. “Everyone in the industry was always busy fighting for their
own cause. Now, whether you’re a sculptor or a jazz musician, you’re on the
same team, because we all need the same thing,” she explains.
In India, Mahesh Babu of Banyan Tree
managed to raise a substantial sum through crowdfunding, supporting 1000
families across the country. “We have shown the importance of a common cause,”
he explains. “We do not have a political support system for artists in India,
but we have looked for and found ways to survive this together.”
skills and technologies
To keep our industry afloat, both musicians
and promoters have embraced technology to keep bringing music to their
audiences. Every event professional has had to face the music and learn how to
stream while venues were forced to close. Research by Jazzfuel, which was presented to delegates on the Friday of the
conference, has shown that 49% of jazz musicians across the globe has done at
least one live streaming gig and 37% was confident they would continue to do
them after corona had left the building. Many survey participants also
expressed that these strange times gave them the chance to up their admin- and
funding application skills, which will hopefully provide them with new
opportunities in the future.
The main issue with these online
performances, of course, is monetizing them. “I really regret offering access
to live streamed concerts for free,” Paul
Pace, of the famous London jazz club Ronnie Scott’s sighs. “In a time where
streaming music via Spotify is already the norm, we accidentally made it even
harder for people to want to pay for music.” At the same time, online
performances have allowed for new ways of working together between artists and
venues. Raynel Frazier of Lincoln
Center in the US, for example, explained: “We have actively looked for ways to
promote talent and raise awareness of live stream events. Hoping, of course,
that this extra engagement would lead to higher donations for artists.”
Of course, live stream events are not the end-all-be-all to the challenges we face. But it can be a part of the solution. In their closing statements on Saturday, November 21, Alexander Beets and Andre le Roux stressed the importance of crafting an industry wide master plan to tackle our common issues in the future. “Musicians have power,” as Alexander Beets rightfully stated, “More so than they think. We need to raise budgets for social and cultural funds and we have to pressure whoever necessary to achieve that.” Over the course of only two days, we managed to connect professionals and musicians across the globe in a spirit of improvisation, resilience and reciprocity. We connected over a very real conversation about our common future, painting a realistic picture of our current situation, and provided a valid and comprehensible starting point to build towards a realistic and optimistic future together.
Taking action and responsibility
Now, it’s time to act upon the ideals and
insights we shared. “Are we just complaining, or are we actually addressing
politicians? And the media? In Poland, for example, musicians are getting more
TV airtime now. Jazz isn’t for free. It’s a profession,” Alexander explained in
conclusion. “So what if we build our own platform, collaborate and make the
system smarter?” The Amersfoort Jazz director emphasized the need for jazz
musicians across the world to acknowledge their value. “We have to capitalize
the value we create within society. If we do everything for free, you get
shitty quality streams. Pay more and get more, that’s how it works in the end.”
So on the one hand, as he points out, we have to rethink our business model and
shift towards a hybrid type of events where we perform live in front of an
audience whilst also serving international viewers from the comfort of their
homes. On the other, we shouldn’t be afraid to actively seek support: “Perhaps,
we have to make it more sexy for bigger corporations to invest in us. We have
to make key players and stakeholders understand what we stand for. We expect
them to take action, and we will continue to encourage and pressure and
challenge them to do so.”
All in all, the World Jazz Conference of
2020 was a starting point to acknowledge exceptional talent and to spread the
word about it, but also a call to arms for everyone involved in jazz across the
world. Let’s take our responsibility together.