Honoured for their development and promotion of arts, culture and creativity in South Africa at the Arts & Culture Trust Awards are Artslink and Word of Mouth, which both won in the category Media of the Year in Support of Arts and Culture.
Artslink.co.za, which was honoured in the Internet and Print category, was launched in 1997 with the vision of creating a comprehensive, interactive website that would provide information on all aspects of South African arts and culture, as well as a networking platform for various arts practitioners.
Its impact has been enormous and virtually all South Africa’s arts and culture role-players are linked to the website in one way or another.
‘The website has no rival in the field,” says theatre producer Des Lindberg. ‘How this has been achieved so far without public funding is a miracle, and can only be ascribed to the sense of mission that has characterised all its activities and initiatives to date.”
‘I find the service very useful but it is the debate that [the website] sparks from time to time and the networking opportunities it offers that I value above all else,” says arts writer and critic Adrienne Sichel.
Founder TJ de Klerk and webmaster Gerard Coughlan were forced to change direction and downscale in June 2003 after not being able to obtain funding.
Despite this, Artslink manages to provide a valuable news service for its readers. Every day, the site posts more than 15 new media releases and records thousands of hits from all over the world.
Yfm’s acclaimed show, Word of Mouth, won in the Radio and Television category. The spoken word was not prevalent in the minds of South Africa’s youth until the station’s popular DJ, Rudeboy Paul (aka Paul Mvulane Mnisi), bravely introduced poetry to the airwaves on the acclaimed programme — and listenership has mushroomed.
Well known as a poet, musician, vocalist, MC, presenter, mix-master DJ, actor and editor of Y mag, his aim with the show is to keep the spoken world alive and give youngsters another platform to explore troubling issues, and question cultural differences and boundaries.
Word of Mouth features poets and writers such as Don Mattera, Duma ka Ndlovu and Kgafela oa Magogodi.
It provides a platform to both old-school poets and the young generation, who come from a hip-hop background but who are beginning to project their own unique aspirations through a burgeoning vocabulary of art. The response to this cutting-edge programme has been overwhelming.
Rudeboy Paul was particularly moved by a message from people’s poet Mzwakhe Mbuli, who wrote to him saying that he found the show truly inspiring.
‘I want to continue motivating the youth to have pride in home-brewed material and to help them get in touch with themselves, the arts and the culture within,” says Rudeboy Paul.