The deciding factor

Professor John van Zyl

Professor John van Zyl served as head of media studies at the University of the Witwatersrand for 20 years. Van Zyl was the co-founder of Classic FM, and is presently executive director of ABC Ulwazi, an educational radio production and training house. He has been programme director of the Direct Cinema Community Filmmaking Project, and was awarded the Pringle Prize for his long-running TV column for The Star. Van Zyl is the author of Media Wise: An Introduction to Visual Literacy. In 1999, he was named media man of the year by The Star.

Michelle Constant

Michelle Constant has worked in the media since 1990, including on radio stations 5fm and SAfm. In 2000, she started her company Foxfire Media. Through Foxfire Media she has produced two seasons of the English radio version of Takalani Sesame and a six-part radio documentary on the history of choral music in South Africa. This was subsequently nominated as a finalist in the New York Festival 2003. In 2002 Constant was appointed to the music advisory panel for the National Arts Council. She has, for seven years running, served as a judge for the South African Music Awards.

Vanessa Cooke

Vanessa Cooke is the director of the Market Theatre Laboratory in Johannesburg, a service provider for the performing arts. Cooke was born in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. After reading a bachelor of arts at the University of the Witwatersrand, she helped found Newtown’s Market Theatre. Cooke has performed in and co-written numerous plays, including This is for Keeps and The Native Who Caused All the Trouble. Her film credits include Mapantsula. She is a co-founder of the actors’ union PAWE (Performing Arts Workers Equity) and has served for six years on the board of the National Arts Council of South Africa.

Sandile Memela

Sandile Memela is a media critic and cultural writer. He is associate editor of the Sowetan Sunday World, where he writes a weekly column called Mamelang.

The first black graduate of the Stellenbosch school of journalism in 1986 (BJourn Hons), he holds a BA communication from Fort Hare.

He was the best arts journalist of the year in 1999 and was awarded a special prize by the Gauteng provincial government for promoting the arts.

As a Hubert H Humphrey fellow at the school of journalism, Maryland United States (1997/98), he was invited in 2000 to Bill Clinton’s Presidential Colloquium on Culture in the 21st Century.

George Gobingca Mxadana

George Gobingca Mxadana is the founder, music director and conductor of the Imilonji KaNtu choral society, with which he has travelled extensively throughout the world. Mxadana is the chairperson of the Old Mutual/Telkom National choir festival, deputy chairperson of the Arts & Culture Trust, and serves on several music and cultural boards in South Africa. He was also the first black chairperson of the International Eisteddfod of South Africa. Mxadana has recently embarked on an ambitious project, starting an all-African indigenous instrument orchestra, which had its first performance at the opening of the Mandela Bridge in Braamfontein.

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