The dire financial situation in which the Sithengi organisation was placed as well as the cancellation of the 2007 market and the fact that no AGM was not held in 2006, placed the continued existence of this national industry institution in jeopardy.
At the insistence of the industry, a new Sithengi board was elected in November 2007 to revive the market and put it on a sustainable platform. This week the new board of directors announced a positive future for the Market which has been hosted in Cape Town since 1996.
On the halting of the Market event in 2007, the board jointly commented that “this isn’t atypical in the business of running industry festivals and markets, some of the biggest festivals in the world have faced similar set-backs. We took the view that this enforced break had to be put to positive use as it has provided a chance to constructively review the advancing and shifting needs of the market.
Our aim has been to conceive of a more progressive, dynamic media and entertainment event that will, in the long-term, enable future business and creative models to develop between Africa and the global entertainment industry, beyond traditional media.
“The value of the Sithengi brand – made up of hard-earned longevity and loyalty – could never be compromised or relinquished, so our aim is to build on the many strengths of the past, as well as provide for the “future’ which is upon us every day; an increasingly converging and constantly evolving media landscape in a globalised business.’
The 12 members currently on the board are Bobby Amm, Dorothy Brislin, Firdoze Bulbulia, Carolyn Carew, David Forbes, Faith Isiakpere, Catherine Meyburgh, Zwelethu Nondumo and Judi Nwokedi. Richard Nosworthy and Mariam Sha have been appointed as co-treasurers, and Dezi Rorich is acting vice chairperson.
Based on a strategy session held last week and facilitated by an independent strategist, Virgilio Da Molo, of Resolve Strategy Consulting, the board has evolved a number of plans for Sithengi’s future.
“The Market plan aims for a fresher, and more cutting edge event, ultimately smaller with fewer components – yet providing for a broader market. The key words of the Market are “Business’ and “Knowledge Building’,’ states the press release.
“The Market components will include a Co-Production Forum, Conference Sessions, a Knowledge Development Lab, and introducing a Sithengi “Unplugged’ element – directed at converging media. In addition to staying in line with global media trends, this element aims to widen the delegate profile in the digital media revolution from content developers and owners, distributors, producers, operators, device manufacturers, broadcasters, brands – all inextricably involved in cross media content and distribution platforms.
There is an upsurge of new media producers, who all need to discover new business and creative models of production, distribution and exhibition.’ The board is in the process of engaging with existing and potential members and funders and the reaction to the new plans has been exceptionally positive.
“That Sithengi grew to span eleven years is testimony to the commitment of the local industry and stake holders with vision and faith, and who recognised the need for a local platform to present the continent’s entertainment industry to the rest of the world. We value their ongoing support.’
FOOTNOTE: The March issue of Screen Africa also reports on plans for Sithengi’s future sustainability and forthcoming events.