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Tuesday, June 24, 2014


(Michelle Constant, Charl Blignaut & NAF CEO Tony Lankester. Pic by Stephen Penney)

The National Arts Festival and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) have announced the Silver Awards for this year’s Arts Journalism Awards. From this list of ‘finalists’, Gold Award winners, together with the overall ‘Arts Journalist of the Year’, will be announced in Grahamstown on July 6, 2014.

“It is heartening to see that our arts journalists deliver quality work day after day even though some publications are cutting back on the amount of coverage they give the arts,” says Tony Lankester CEO of the National Arts Festival. “This augurs well for a future where digital media is poised to dominate as consumer passion for quality content remains high. Time has become the single most valuable commodity of our generation and we’re confident that readers will continue to invest it in seeking out those who nurture creativity and excellence in their reporting. We salute those journalists who are determined to keep delivering that creativity and excellence.”

BASA CEO Michelle Constant echoes this comment in describing the situation: "The challenge for arts journalists in this country is growing, as (although digital media offer new platforms) we are seeing more arts coverage being cut by major newspapers and broadcasters. We believe that this can only negatively impact on audience support and growth of the arts. Against these odds, journalists in South Africa continue to offer excellent coverage that highlights the power of arts in our country.”

Submissions were drawn from across the media spectrum: text (print and online), images (photography) and audio/video material (radio, television, podcasts, vodcasts and other digital content).

“These Awards aim to recognise the best in South African arts journalism, and to celebrate and promote the work of our journalists, but we also want to challenge, to provoke and to encourage innovation,” says convenor of the Judging Panel, Prof Chris Thurman. “Linked to this is the broader question of transformation in the sector; we note with some concern the lack of representivity and diversity in the pool of entrants (in terms of age, race, gender and journalistic medium) and, whether or not this is indicative of industry demographics, we plan to address such concerns in future. While we were disappointed that the number of entrants was marginally down from last year, the judging panel once again found ample evidence of the quality, breadth and depth of local arts journalism.”

The full list of 2014 Silver Award winners is:

FEATURES: Anna Stielau; Charl Blignaut; Nick Mulgrew; Matthew Krouse; Rob Boffard; Oliver Roberts and Bruce Dennill.

REVIEWS: Ang Lloyd; Steve Kretzmann; Eugene Yiga; Matthew Krouse, and Steyn du Toit

NEWS STORY: Charl Blignaut; Yazeed Kamaldien; Matthew Blackman and J Brooks Spector

PHOTOGRAPHY: Theana Breugem; Sizwe Ndingane; Alet Pretorius and Jesse Kramer.

Gold Award winners will receive cash prizes, and the overall Arts Journalist of the Year will be will be invited to travel with a South African production to an international Festival in the next year.

These awards are being presented for the second time in 2014, with entries needing to be published or broadcast in the 2013 calendar year to qualify. In identifying excellence, expertise and creativity, it is hoped they will promote the practice of arts and cultural journalism, strengthen its national profile and celebrate its importance, range, diversity, fluidity and vitality.