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BARLOWORLD ARTWORKS (article first published : 2005-10-19)

Now in its ninth year of existence, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) aims to promote and encourage sustainable and strategic partnerships between the private sector and the arts. It is a joint initiative between government and the business sector and has President Thabo Mbeki as its patron. It is mandated to develop and promote mutually beneficial and sustainable business-arts partnerships that will, in the long term, benefit the community at large. Since its inception it has developed strategies, built membership and worked at many levels to promote the profile of the arts within South Africa and to promote business sector involvement with the arts sector.

Diversified industrial company Barloword - partnering with Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) - has launched the ambitious ARTWORKS initiative. This business-mentoring programme has been designed to build skills within the arts sector and is an opportunity for experienced businesspeople to share their knowledge with arts organisations in a mutually beneficial partnership.

The programme has been in development since BASA's first arts marketing programme in 2001, which identified gaps in levels of professional or business expertise within the arts sector. These range from marketing to financial planning and from audience development to cash flow management.

BASA soon discovered that mentoring partnerships are of benefit to both parties. The arts organisation is taught much-needed business skills while the mentor also acquires a new perspective, entering a world characterised by hard work and little funding but no lack of creativity and energy.

Tony Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of Barloworld, explains the company's decision to become involved with the ARTWORKS initiative: "Our approach to social investment is to seek long-term relationships with carefully selected partner organisations. We especially look for initiatives that grow capacity, develop skills and have a strong sustainability component.

"The ARTWORKS mentoring programme, run by Business and Arts South Africa, meets these criteria and has presented an opportunity for us to invest in the sustainable development of the arts. All truly successful countries have a thriving arts sector. In South Africa, the arts are undervalued, not only as an important part of the social fabric of our country, but also as a potential economic driver. The Artworks programme is a platform from which the skills of business can be applied to make a powerful contribution to societal progress."

With Barloworld's support, BASA is now able to roll out implementation of this programme countrywide, taking it initially into major urban centres. The intention over the longer term, depending upon the availability of business mentors, is to move into more underserved areas working with local arts organisations.

Says Nicola Danby, CEO of BASA: "The Barloworld ARTWORKS programme will undoubtedly develop new and often much-needed skills within the arts sector and, as experience world-wide has shown, will open the door for participating business men and women into a new world of ideas, imagination and innovation. From our perspective, everyone - business and the arts - will benefit."

This is an opportunity for individuals to volunteer, and for companies to integrate a new element into existing volunteer programmes. Mentors will be asked to motivate and guide their partner and identify business and growth opportunities.

Current BARLOWORLD ARTWORKS Mentoring Programmes include Ballet Theatre Afrikan, the National Eisteddfod Academy, Agulhas Theatre Works, the Joubert Park Project, and The Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre Arts and Craft Project.

Further information about the programme from Diana Williams on 073 305 9031 or e-mail artworks@basa.co.za




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