For the Hollard Group and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), there was no question: COVID-19 pandemic or not, the 2020 BASA Awards had to go ahead. The real poser was, how could the awards celebrate achievement and materially support the struggling arts sector?
This year’s 23rd BASA Awards, whose winners will be revealed virtually on 19 November, has “Indelible” as its theme. The awards comprise seven open categories, as well as two further categories where winners are decided at BASA’s discretion.
Hollard has for 22 years been a member of BASA, which facilitates partnerships between the corporate and arts sectors to their mutual benefit. It has been the awards’ co-sponsor for seven years, the past three as lead partner, helping to recognise and celebrate those partnerships.
“When it became apparent that the pandemic and subsequent lockdown would impact this year’s BASA Awards but, more importantly, was also having a devastating effect on the arts community, we sat down with BASA and had a conversation about how we could make an indelible, positive mark on the arts,” says Heidi Brauer, Chief Marketing Officer for the Hollard Group.
Ashraf Johaardien, CEO of BASA, concurs: “Until now BASA has been an organisation that facilitates mutually beneficial partnerships between the corporate and arts sectors, as opposed to funding arts projects. But it became clear that in these unprecedented times we needed to take unprecedented action in support of our artists.”
The upshot is that half of Hollard’s sponsorship of the awards has been allocated instead to the COVID-19 BASA Artist Relief Fund, set up to assist struggling artists to weather the pandemic in practical and sustainable ways.
“A primary focus of the relief fund, for example, is to provide medical assistance to artists and their loved ones,” says Johaardien. “Many, many artists cannot afford the luxury of having medical aid cover, which is more essential under the current circumstances than ever. Supporting them in this way, and helping them secure their futures, is vital.”
Brauer adds that this financial support has enabled BASA to also provide artists with grants in lieu of lost income, allowing them to carry on with their creative work. “Twenty-three artists have been provided with grants as a result of our support of the relief fund,” she says.
The decision to divert half of Hollard’s sponsorship of the BASA Awards in this way is in keeping with the insurer’s business purpose, called Better Futures.
“Our purpose holds us to create and secure better futures for more people in everything we do, and how we do it. In other words, Hollard’s activities must derive social as well as financial dividends,” says Brauer. “We’re thus going ahead with this year’s BASA Awards because it’s vital to motivate businesses, artists and arts organisations to continue partnering in amazing work, and recognise and reward them for it. That’s better futures.”
Johaardien says that Hollard’s support has enabled BASA to continue providing COVID-related financial relief, and the fund remains open for applications from artists specifically requiring medical assistance.
“Our relief fund is providing support to artists across disciplines in the creative sector,” he says.