Monday, 29 October 2012

Ethics & Arts Journalism: discussion topic at SAAWCA meeting

South African Arts Writers and Critics Association (SAAWCA) will be holding a meeting in Joburg in November. This year it will include an invigorating debate regarding ethics and arts journalism followed by a networking session, allowing for the discussion to evolve more informally and give an opportunity for young or aspiring critics to meet our established members. Anyone with a vested interested in arts writing is welcome to attend. 

Date: November 10

Venue: Theatre on the Square, Sandton, Nelson Mandela Square, Johannesburg

Time: 11am to 2pm

Topic: Are arts media sponsorship deals compromising arts journalism?

Panellists:  Anton Harber (professor of Journalism at Wits) will join Matthew Krouse (Arts Editor, Mail and Guardian), Georgina Thompson (director Dance Umbrella, Dance Forum), Michelle Constant (head of BASA, journalist), Adrienne Sichel (Independent Arts Writer) Edward Tsumele (Editor CityLife)

Please RSVP:

Discussion: More and more arts institutions are entering into deals with publications/ newspapers/media groups as a way of guaranteeing the promotion and coverage of their events. In some instances money exchanges hands in the form of advertising, in other instances both organisations enter into an agreement whereby the publication offers coverage in exchange for the marketing their brand at a particular event or through the advertising and promotion of it. Because objectivity in arts reporting is seen as less important than say in hard news, few questions have been raised around the ethics of these deals, and more importantly the impact they may have on the impartiality and quality of the reporting and whose work or event receives coverage.

Here are few pertinent questions that this discussion needs to address

Is the media/editorial for sale? What impact could this have on how the public and arts community view arts journalism?

Is it an even playing field when only arts organisations with money or affiliations to institutions with funds are given space/coverage in newspapers or other arts publications? What of those that don’t have any financial clout?

Do arts journalists feel free to critically appraise an arts event produced by an organisation that their publication has entered into a deal?
Should an institution be able to end a media sponsorship deal because of unfavourable comments in the coverage they secured?
Why are publications entering into these deals; are limited budgets and the pressure to sustain arts journalism contributing towards this phenomenon?
How does this impact on the arts? These deals may help grow audiences but does it educate them? What of artists and performers who depend on impartial critical arts writing to grow their practice?
If this has become an essential part of arts journalism, are there different ways that we could conceive of these agreements so as to minimise their impact on the quality of arts journalism? In other words should the terms of these agreements be renegotiated, should there be a set of rules in place?
In the digital sphere these deals manifest in slightly different ways, perhaps more pervasive ways where the online publication is solely reliant on sponsorship from arts institutions or establishments to survive. What kind of relationships are these and how are they impacting on whose events, works are covered and how they are covered?

Monday, 11 June 2012

SAAWCA Critics Mentorship Programme 2012

We are pleased to announce that the recipient of SAAWCA’s inaugural Critics Mentorship Programme 2012 is Same Mdluli, a twenty-nine-year old PHD art history student from Wits University, who is keen to explore the journalistic realm. Mdluli believes that “art criticism has to adapt and follow current trends including the influences of social media and technological advances.”

Mdluli was selected by SAAWCA board members; Bruce Dennill, Edward Tsumele and Mary Corrigall. Corrigall will serve as a mentor for Mdluli at The Sunday Independent newspaper. Mdluli will travel to the National Arts Festival, where she will write reviews on visuals arts and film productions.

SAAWCA received a really good number of applications and the applicants were all quite strong.  It is encouraging to learn that there are so many young talented people eager to become arts writers. It reinforces our need to increase platforms for arts writing.  SAAWCA must find a way to support all of these young people, as our industry could benefit from the influx of a new generation of critics.

The SAAWCA Critics Mentorship Programme 2012 was made possible by a grant from the Arts & Culture Trust’s (ACT) Development Programme, which is funded by Nedbank Arts Affinity. It has been designed to enhance the continued development of arts and culture in South Africa.

SAAWCA would also like to thank Ismail Mahomed, the director of the National Arts Festival, who has funded one of our young-up-and-coming members, Mpho Moshe Matheolane, to travel to Grahamstown to attend the festival.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

SAAWCA at UJ/ACT Arts & Culture conference

The UJ/ACT Arts and Culture conference takes place this week in Johannesburg and SAAWCA head and founder, Mary Corrigall, will be making a presentation during the first afternoon session on May 24 at the UJ Arts Centre.

In a panel dubbed State of the Sectors, she will join key representatives from the realms of theatre, music, dance and film who will present sector over-views. That we have cinched a spot on this slot is a great coup as it immediately identifies arts writing as a sector and one which falls under the arts and not just journalism. This should have significant impact on how the arts industry views us and will also aid how we can shape and enhance our role in the arts.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Criticism in Print

The internet might be turning our once transient products into permanent texts, yet it’s always rewarding to see a critic or commentator’s work being published in book form. SAAWCA member Chris Thurman is launching just such a book. It’s dubbed At Large: Reviewing the Arts in South Africa. The launch will include a panel discussion that forms part of the Wale festival at Wits University. If you are in Joburg don’t miss it.  Here are the details:

Date: Wednesday 9 May
Time: 18h30-19h30
Venue: Pentz Bookshop
Convener: Dr Chris Thurman
Panel discussion and public debate around the “why, what and how” of arts writing in South Africa.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Call for Critics Mentorship Programme 2012

Since the inception of SAAWCA we have been committed to attracting new writers to the arts writing and criticism sector.  The inaugural Critics Mentorship Programme 2012 is the first initiative in service of this objective and is made possible by a grant from the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT). The Development Programme is funded by Nedbank Arts Affinity and has been
designed to enhance the continued development of arts and culture in South Africa.

How does it work? The Mentorship Programme will see one individual spend a month under the guidance of a mentor before attending the National Arts Festival from 29 June to 8 July, where they will be expected to write reviews and interviews, which will be published either in the Cue Newspaper and/or in other national publications.
This mentorship period beings June 4 and would involve being exposed to the working life of a critic, which would include attending arts related events, interviews and other research activities with the mentor, as well as spending time at the offices of newspapers, and being exposed to the general running of a media organisation. During this period the mentor will set a number of writing assignments for the participant. They will be given detailed feedback for each assignment and if the standard of the work is high, these assignments may be considered for publication.
Who should apply? Any aspiring or young/new arts writer, critic with some basic experience in writing, either at university or through a journalism course or any other writing workshop or with a background in the arts. It is not a full-time programme but the participant will need to be available during some weekday hours.  The participant will also be required to travel to Grahamstown for the festival – travel and accommodation costs will be covered by SAAWCA. At this time the mentorship programme will only be available to Joburg based participants. Those who already have experience in arts writing and criticism will be considered. Ultimately we are looking to provide guidance to an individual who has already shown talent in arts writing but requires a close level of mentorship to develop their work further.  The participant will receive a substantial stipend.  

Criteria: A participant will be selected based on the strength of his/her writing abilities and knowledge or affinity for the arts

Deadline:  May 31, 2012.  Please send a copy of your CV, a short letter of motivation outlining which discipline or disciplines of the arts you are interested in, as well as two examples of your arts writing that are longer than 500 words. Please title your mail: Mentorship programme application. Send your applications or any queries to or

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Jazz Criticism Workshop

A Jazz Criticism Writing Workshop will form part of the Wale festival at Wits University

Date: Wednesday 9 May
Time: 10h15-12h00
Venue: Room 116 Wits School of the Arts
Convener: Lindelwa Dalamba

Experienced music writers and scholars associated with Wits will discuss the state of the art of music writing in South Africa. They will also conduct a workshop focusing on the techniques of the genre for aspiring writers and students.

For more information visit

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Creating a Hub for Arts Writing

A lack of platforms for arts writing and the promotion thereof is one of the biggest complaints that critics and arts commentators have. In a drive to promote our writing and the art of arts writing we would like to exploit existing and accessible platforms, starting with our Facebook page and this blog.

If you write about the arts for a newspaper, magazine, online publication or blog and would like to promote your work please post a link to that work on our Facebook Page here. You need to be a member to do this so if you are not a member please request to be one on our Facebook page or via email by sending a mail to Stories posted on our Facebook Page will then be picked up and blogged on this website.

Monday, 19 March 2012

ACT gives grant for SAAWCA Mentorship programme

The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) in association with Nedbank Arts Affinity, announced
eight development grants last week. One of these grants was awarded to the South African Arts Writers & Critics Association’s (SAAWCA), Arts Writers & Critics Mentorship Programme 2012.

The Development Programme is funded by Nedbank Arts Affinity and has been
designed to enhance the continued development of arts and culture in South Africa.
The programme provides support for artistic excellence in creative production, the
development of new South African work, professional development and training for
the youth.

ACT supports the association’s Mentorship Programme with a grant for the development of a young arts writer and critic. The aspiring writer
will spend a month under the guidance of a mentor (of their choice) before attending the National Arts Festival from 29 June to 8 July, where they will be expected to write reviews and interviews under the guidance of a mentor. Reviews and/or interviews will be published either in the Cue Newspaper and/or in other national publications.

Applications for the Mentorship Programme will open shortly. For enquiries e-mail: or

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Call for Film Critics

The 5th Talent Campus Durban (20-24 July) will include Talent Press, a mentoring programme for African film critics in collaboration with FIPRESCI and Goethe Institut. Talent Press will publish reviews and reports on the Talent Campus Durban and the festival films and events in general.

Held in co-operation with the Berlinale Talent Campus, and with support from the German Embassy of South Africa, Goethe Institut of South Africa, and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism. Talent Campus Durban runs from 20 to 24 July. Apart from the main event in Berlin, Talent Campus partnerships also take place at selected festivals in Buenos Aires, Guadalajara, Tokyo and Sarajevo. Opportunities for participating talents are enhanced through Talent Campus networks and the Berlinale's global information platform.

Application is open to filmmakers and critics who are resident in Africa. Applicants are encouraged to apply well before the deadline of 15 March in order to submit their work samples timeously.

Visit or for submission regulations.

The 33rd Durban International Film Festival takes place from 21 to 29 July. The DIFF is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) with principal funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and support from the National Film and Video Foundation, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, and the City of Durban. Durban FilmMart is a partnership project between the Durban Film Office and the Durban International Film Festival.

For DIFF and Talent Campus Queries contact 031 260 1650 / 2506. E-mail both: / Website: Twitter @DIFFest