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Monday, March 23, 2015


(R60,000 Nedbank grant winner Jade Bowers presenting her National Database for New South African Plays pitch to the panel. Pic by Swazi Mazibuko)

The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) and Nedbank Arts Affinity recently announced support for two innovative projects to the value of R100,000.

The announcement was the culmination of the Pitch Perfect session that formed part of the 2015 ACT | UJ Arts& Culture Conference programme. Creative entrepreneurs were given a chance to learn the art of the perfect pitch from business guru Michael Rubenstein, and put this to the test in a Live Pitch session, competing against fellow delegates.

The shortlisted projects were presented by candidates who opted to take part in the Pitch Perfect segment in the LEARN IT powered by Business and Arts South Africa cluster. Each participant had three minutes to sell their creative project concept, followed by a Q&A. The panel of judges included ACT Trustees Melissa Goba, Jayesperi Moopen, Thandi Swaartbooi, Themi Venturas, ACT CEO Pieter Jacobs, the CEO of the Entrepreneurship Academy Mongezi Makhalima and business-guru Michael Rubenstein.

ACT Chairperson and member of the judging panel Melissa Goba says: “We are very happy with the overall ideas and projects that were presented to the panel because it has given us a good indication of what creatives are capable of. We can only hope that the tools and skills that delegates were equipped with will help inspire them to continue thinking about creative entrepreneurship in a way that will help bolster the arts sector.”

As co-sponsor of the Pitch Perfect opportunity, Nedbank has a 20 year history of consistent support for the arts, and reflects on the sponsoring of grants allocated in this unusual format: “The creative industry is big business,” says Sydney Nhlanhla Mbhele, Nedbank Divisional Executive for Marketing. “Not only does it preserve our culture, heritage and spark our imaginations and shape our world, it also contributes to the economy. For instance, the South African film industry alone contributed R3.5 billion towards South Africa’s economy in 2012, creating over 25,000 jobs annually and contributing almost R670 million to the national tax bucket. As a bank for all, we are committed to enabling the communities we serve to make the things that really matter happen.”

The projects which received Nedbank Arts Affinity grants are The National Database of new South African Plays: R 60,000; and Educational Board Game: R40,000

CEO of ACT, Pieter Jacobs, says: “While it was important for the conference partners to provide an opportunity for participants to develop their pitching skills, not only in theory but in a practical way, the panel of judges who adjudicated the pitches also had to consider various aspects including the potential impact of the project and its entrepreneurial potential. To give the projects the best chance of succeeding, the two winning projects will also receive mentoring from the Entrepreneurship Academy.”

The Creatives Make it Happen conference presented a chance for people working at different levels and in different contexts within the sector, to meet and learn from one another. By engaging with entrepreneurs, artists, manufacturers, consumers, policy makers and implementers, the conference showcased alternative ways of cultivating business ideas in a contemporary South Africa.

The 2015 ACT | UJ Arts & Culture Conference was presented by the Arts & Culture Trust, UJ Arts & Culture and British Council Connect ZA, with support from the Department of Arts and Culture, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), SAMRO Foundation, Pro Helvetia, the European Union, the SA-UK Seasons 2014 & 2015; and media partners Classicfeel magazine and UJfm. The conference ran from March 8 to 10 based at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).