Investing in the arts


“The earth without art is just eh’ – this was the piece of graffiti aptly used by CEO of BASA (Business and Arts South Africa) Michelle Constant to introduce the biennial Artstrack Research on 13 March in Johannesburg. The research tracks consumer engagement in the arts as well as perceptions of the arts and its sponsors.

Constant noted that because 2012 marks the 15th Annual Business Day BASA Awards supported by Anglo American, BASA felt it had to do something important. “This year we will introduce various research documents at different times of the year beginning with Artstrack 2012, which was facilitated by BMI. Second up is the UNESCO Business Toolkit (facilitated by GIBS) which talks to the creation of a tool kit for business and how to get return on investment when sponsoring the arts. UNESCO is very excited about this project and we hope the document will be released in April.

“The third research document is Challenges to Entry for Artists as we’ve found that arts organisations don’t speak the same language as business. Fourthly, after the BASA Awards at the end of August, we will release a series of Best Practice Studies (facilitated by UNESCO, Anglo American, GIBS and the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund). All this research goes under the banner of the 15th BASA Awards supported by Anglo American and talks to best practice in arts sponsorship first, and then to better practice later.’

Artstrack is commissioned every two years as a resource to BASA’s approximately 160 members, in support of their arts sponsorship. The 2012 Artstrack involved 2,000 respondents from different communities and geographical regions.

“BASA has found that most companies do arts sponsorship through their marketing budgets instead of their corporate social investment (CSI) budgets. This is great obviously but my concern is that we’re in a difficult economic climate which is likely to stay this way for some time. So it has necessitated a paradigm shift. As a result companies may be forced to economise and the first thing to fall by the wayside in a reduced marketing budget is arts sponsorship.

“We believe that the arts offer far greater opportunities to strategically align brands than with sports. Not only is sports sponsorship expensive and over-subscribed in South Africa, it can sometimes be a danger if a particular sporting body, team or player is embroiled in controversy. So this year BASA will say to business – look at the opportunities in arts and culture,’ explained Constant.

Artstrack 2012 reveals that an amount of R394m was spent on arts and culture sponsorships last year (this is not the full amount only what BASA knows to have been spent by the Artstrack respondents). This figure represents a 5% increase per year since 2009. Music sponsorship accounts for 54% of the amount.

Constant noted that the research shows that there is some confusion in the business sector around the definition of arts and culture. “The term arts is not easy to define and Artstrack shows that business equates art to painting and music only. Business’ definition of culture is even more confusing and is seen as – a focus on traditional arts and crafts, religion, traditional dancing and race.

“BASA sees a huge value in festivals and is encouraged that sponsorship for arts festivals and film festivals is growing. There is a very high number of festivals in South Africa. Currently the major sponsorships for festivals are for film festivals because they generate huge public interest.’

She expressed the viewpoint that there is not enough arts education in schools, something that would help to grow audiences for arts events.

“Companies that sponsor the arts are seen as participative citizens. Banks and telecommunications companies are perceived to be the most active in arts sponsorship. A very high percentage of all race groups believe government should sponsor arts and culture.

“Our core function at BASA is to make it easier for businesses to sponsor the arts. So I’m hoping that the Artstrack and UNESCO research will greatly assist in that regard,’ concluded Constant.

To find out what Artstrack revealed about the film industry read the April issue of Screen Arica.

Report by Joanna Sterkowicz


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