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Wednesday, March 24, 2021


The 2021 iteration of BASA’s Debut Programme has outstripped planned key milestones. Unique in its aim to provide business and entrepreneurial skills development to emerging artists in all nine provinces of South Africa, the programme is committed to providing participants with a suite of skills that sweep the range required to launch, build, or sustain their creative business ventures.

Divided into three key phases (Kickstarter, Hlanganisa and Catalyst), the Debut Programme aims to ensure a systematic approach to mentoring its artists and enables full-scale access to relevant information and networks to help them build the resources they need.

Says BASA CEO, Ashraf Johaardien: “During the first quarter of this year, key actions have included the recruitment and training of nine young mentors/facilitators from across South Africa, who were paired with nine provincial liaisons. They were tasked with ensuring that programme participants have continuous access and support throughout the lifetime of the programme and its activities.”

“February’s focus was a series of workshops, commencing with the purchase of data for 259 participants. With social distancing a primary prohibitor, it was clear that an adjustment to the methods of engagement with Programme participants was required, with an almost wholesale employment of online methods of interaction.”

According to BASA Head of Programmes, Boitumelo ‘Tumy’ Motsoatsoe, “In the first edition of the Programme, WhatsApp was instrumental in helping BASA reach diverse artists from rural and peri-urban parts of South Africa. This year, with inclusion and accessibility as our core values of the Programme, we have been able to offer the Kickstarter workshops in a highly interactive and innovative way in spite of the lockdown restrictions. Participants accessed new provincial and national networks, engaged with diverse industry captains and mentor facilitators, gained new digital skills and most importantly, will be able to continue engaging with the Programme content beyond the workshops!”

These Kickstarter workshops included sessions facilitated on both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, comprising Facebook Live Sessions, with interviews with eight diverse artists from myriad artistic disciplines (Terry-Ann Adams, Ennock Mlangeni, Qhakaza Mohare, Kwanele Finch Thusi, Usha Seejarim, Itumeleng Hlapane, Bulelani Balabala, Schoeme Grobler). The outcome of these workshops was a task submission from each participant. The start of March saw the Programme progress to the next phase, namely the adjudication of participants, with the selection of 180 moving to ‘Hlanganisa’, each of whom will receive a Catalyst Grant of R15,000, the first batch of which will be disbursed from March 31. The adjudication team is made up of the following judges: Onthatile Ditshego, David April, Tshepiso Shikwambane, Dimakatso Motholo and Afheili Makwanya. The list of the 180 selected to proceed to the next phase can be viewed here.

The benefit of the Debut Programme is that no single participant is redundant at any stage of the Programme. Those participants who are not selected for the Hlanganisa phase are still invited to join the Kickstarter mentorship sessions for further skills development and support, and when the Debut Programme Alumni is launched in May, these same participants will receive further support from both BASA and DSAC.

The value already received from each creative taking part in the Programme is clear from their feedback to the Programme:

“Learning how to see the bigger picture, identifying opportunities within the market that I have access to open more revenue streams and just the skills I’ve learned, which will help me take my projects off the ground... I also enjoyed the Live Sessions as well as the interactive provincial groups.” – Ashley (Western Cape)

“I believe the biggest funding I got from BASA was ‘wisdom’.” – Kgopotso (Limpopo)

To link direct to the BASA website, click on the advert to the right of this article or visit