national Arts Festival Banner

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Volunteerism is an increasingly potent way for South African businesses and individuals to support the country’s arts community. It is rapidly becoming a key feature of Business and Arts South Africa’s ongoing work.

Over the past few years, Business and Arts South Africa has refined its two volunteer projects, BASA Boardbank and the BASA Mentorship programme in association with Etana, providing an accessible way for business professionals to engage with the arts. BASA Boardbank gives skilled professionals the chance to voluntarily sit on the Board of an arts organisation while the BASA Mentorship programme helps introduce better business skills into the arts. In addition, BASA can also help facilitate once-off volunteering for those who have limited time to offer.

For many volunteers, giving of their time and expertise is part of their own personal social investment as active members of the South African economy.

Says Ilka Dunne, head of young talent development at Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), “The arts is part of my background so the chance for me to use the skills I’ve learnt in a business environment to benefit an arts organisation is really an amazing way to give back.”

Dunne was named Mentor of the Year at last year’s 14th Annual Business Day BASA Awards, supported by Anglo American for her work with the National Eisteddfod Academy. She’s a strong believer in the two-way impact that volunteering gives business professionals.

“Many of us work in a business environment that is all about deliverables and it is very hard to lift your head and see the bigger picture out there,” Dunne says. “The work that I do with the National Eisteddfod Academy enables me to do just that – to step out of my immediate domain and engage with a different, creative sector in a way that allows me to grow too. I often come back from time spent with Francois (Dr Francois van den Berg) and my thinking around something that pertains to my work has become clearer.”

Another way of volunteering is through once-off or ad-hoc interventions – a route that is suitable for those who have limited time to offer.

In 2011, Telkom expert, Andre Hermanus, offered his assistance to the Johannesburg Art Gallery when they faced a telecommunications challenge. He had been moved into offering his services after reading about BASA’s work following Telkom’s winning of the International Sponsorship Award for The Lion King at the Annual Business Day BASA Awards, supported by Anglo American, a few years back. Telkom, a BASA Member, is also currently sponsoring the exciting Phantom of the Opera musical being staged at The Teatro at Montecasino, Johannesburg.

Hermanus felt that his technical skills (including electronics and electronic communication) could also be utilised by arts organisations. “I don’t have all the answers but I have offered to be an 'ambassador' for any communication issues and queries,” Hermanus says, adding he hoped this would inspire others outside less conventional skills-sets to volunteer their services.

With its emphasis on volunteering in the arts, Business and Arts South Africa offers arts organisations and business people the opportunity to work together. Alongside BASA Boardbank and the BASA Mentorship Programme in association with Etana, BASA connects individuals wishing to volunteer their skills on a less formal basis.

For more information visit or e-mail