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Monday, September 29, 2014


(Ismail Mahomed)

(Report from the artSMart team covering the 2014 Witness Hilton Arts Festival which ran at Hilton College from September 19 to 21)

Anyone in the arts industry should try to draw from his experience. (Report by Pauline Dalais)

Secrets From My Address Book was a free informal discussion with Ismail Mahomed, the National Arts Festival’s Artistic Director, held at the 2014 Witness Hilton Arts Festival.

The discussion offered tips on the 100 key people, organisations and foundations that any young producer should try to know about.

Ismail Mahomed has a wealth of knowledge and anyone in the arts industry should try to draw from his experience. This knowledge he shares freely with interested participants. So it was disheartening not to see more active arts practitioners in the audience as his discussion would have benefited anyone in any arts genre.

He talked about the simple sharing of experiences, eg “how do I get into the inner-circle”.

The first thing is your visibility – to try to find a way of connecting with people on every level.

Networking is a key to the arts sector. It opens doors to funding, festivals etc. Networking is a negotiation where you set the target for what you want, and opportunities invariably arise. Try not to get sucked in by negative groups who self-marginalise themselves.

When applying for funding, don’t wait for the application date. Find out who the person is, who is going to receive your proposal. Call them and ask for some basic information on the upcoming funding call. Draw your funders into a net to give you advice, because then they take an interest. This way, you no longer become a number when your funding application is received, but an individual entity.

As Ismail says: “Your networking should begin when you are a student. Then you graduate. Then you need to understand who your peers are. Also, who the emerging people are.”

“You have to be multi-skilled in the arts field,” he continues, “but always remember to wear a hat of the space you are in, eg when you are in the space of directors, wear your director’s hat. Choose which hat you are wearing on that day.”

Speaking from my own point of view, it was an enjoyable and highly valuable hour spent in learning more about the challenges of accessing funding for the arts. – Pauline Dalais