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Call to enter SA Arts Journalism Awards

The National Arts Festival and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) are calling for entries to the South African Arts Journalism Awards, which will be presented for the first time in 2013. The awards will identify excellence, expertise and creativity.
In doing so, they will promote the practice of arts and cultural journalism, strengthen its national profile and celebrate its importance, range, diversity, fluidity and vitality.

Festival CEO Tony Lankester said: "The awards will recognise journalistic practice across all media platforms: print, online and broadcast." He added that the arts sector "needs robust, healthy, insightful and articulate commentary and criticism from the media to keep it moving forward".

Gold and Silver awards will be made in the following categories:

  • Reviewing: Reviews of theatre, music, visual/plastic arts, dance, literature, film, comedy or any other arts and culture phenomenon.
  • Features: These may include interviews and profiles, behind-the-scenes stories, arts-related investigative journalism or other forms of arts and culture reportage in any medium.
  • Opinion pieces: Comment, analysis and provocation - in any medium - relating to specific artistic disciplines, the arts sector more broadly or arts-related policy and business stories.

Professor Chris Thurman has been invited by the organisers to convene an independent panel of judges who, apart from the above categories, may also choose to nominate recipients for the following awards:

  • Best New Voice
  • Special Contribution to Arts Journalism
  • Best New Media Exponent
  • Arts Photography
  • Special Merit Award

"Business and Arts South Africa continues to support a better understanding of the arts, and advocates an arts culture in our society. Rigourous and innovative coverage of the arts is crucial in the argument highlighting the value of the arts to all South Africans. It is for this reason that we are excited to be partnering with the National Arts Festival on these Awards," said BASA CEO Michelle Constant.

Amsterdam Fringe

Winners will be announced during the course of this year's National Arts Festival and a range of cash prizes will be awarded. Additionally, one journalist will be awarded the opportunity to travel to the vibrant Amsterdam Fringe in September, from where he will report on South African productions being presented at that Festival as part of the World Fringe Alliance showcase.

"There are times that we need to be challenged, times that we need to be applauded, and times that we need someone to hold a mirror up to us just as our artists hold a mirror to society. These awards will seek out those journalists who practise their craft with integrity and who stimulate debate and passion in their readers, viewers and listeners. They are a celebration of excellence and of passion, and we are delighted to partner BASA in bringing them to life," elaborated Lankester.

Competition rules and other important information can be found on the festival's website at


The following submissions procedures must be adhered to:

  • The deadline for entries is Friday, 8 March, 2013.
  • Those submitting written work may enter one or more article(s) totalling no more than 3000 words.
  • Those submitting audio or video material may enter either a compilation of clips or a single programme/instalment, no longer than 25 minutes in duration. The presenter, the producer, sound/visual editor and other members of the production team should be clearly indicated.
  • Photographic material should be limited to a portfolio of 15 images.

In all cases, entries should be accompanied by a brief letter of motivation in which the entrant specifies which category(ies) he is entering, provides some background to his work and indicates the context of publication or broadcast of the material submitted: date, time (if applicable), title, publication/station/channel/website. Material may only be submitted if it was published or broadcast in the 2012 calendar year. Judges reserve the right to request the entrant to provide proof of publication or broadcast.

Electronic submissions are preferable. Applicants may submit material as an email attachment sent to: . Alternatively, hard copies may be posted to: National Arts Festival, PO Box 304, Grahamstown, 6140 provided that they are postmarked no later than Friday, 8 March 2013.

Finalists will be announced in April in Joburg, with Gold and Silver and other category winners announced in June in Grahamstown.

The judging panel for the awards comprises: Chris Thurman (convenor), Andre le Roux, Fred Khumalo, Shado Twala, Adrienne Sichel, Ryland Fisher, Victor Dlamini, Avril Joffe, Gwen Ansell, Pitika Ntuli. The judges' decisions will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.