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Saturday, December 3, 2016


(Niren Tolsi)

The 2016 Arts Journalism of the Year Award winners were announced at a recent ceremony at Nando’s Central Kitchen in Johannesburg. A partnership between the National Arts Festival (NAF) and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), these awards recognise excellence in journalism that explores and celebrates the arts and creativity across a number of categories.

The Arts Journalist of the Year 2016 was awarded to Durban-based Niren Tolsi, who is a widely-published freelance journalist.

Lesley Stones took both the overall Gold and a Silver in the Reviews Category (written word) for her work in and Daily Maverick.

In the News Category (written word), Christiaan J de Swart won Gold for his work on Litnet, and Niren Tolsi also took home Gold in the Features Category (written word) for his work in City Press. ENCA’s Nontobeko Sibisi won Gold for the Broadcast Category.

Photographer, Nardus Engelbrecht, was the Gold winner for Photography for his Channel24 contributions, and the Organisational Award went to City Press for their ongoing excellent standard of and commitment to arts journalism.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Adrienne Sichel, and a Special Award for Innovation and Excellence went to online arts portal Ja.Magazine.

The NAF’s CEO, Tony Lankester, noted: “These are challenging times for arts journalism as it shifts shape but we believe that the talent we have will survive the transitions and continue to bring great relevance to the sector.”

Business and Arts South Africa, who has partnered on the award since its inception, believes “good arts journalism is a supporter and driver of narrative and of storytelling. BASA strongly values such storytelling, in order to deepen the role and value of the arts in society,” according to BASA’s Marketing Manager, Lakin Morgan-Baatjies.

The panel of judges was convened by John Maytham, and included Andrew Tshabangu, Rafs Mayet, Darryl Accone, Robyn Sassen, Gwen Ansell, Finuala Dowling, and Jayne Morgan.

Commenting on this year’s entries, Maytham said: “Finding the media space and resources to do a proper job of covering the very vibrant SA arts scene remains a challenge. But the contributions recognised by these awards show that we have journalists passionate enough to navigate the landscape.”

Follow the Arts Journalism Awards using the hashtag #ArtsJourn and on the National Arts Festival website (click on the banner ad at the top of this page)