JOHANNESBURG — The National Arts Festival and Business and Arts South Africa announced the winners of the 2015 Arts Journalism Awards in Johannesburg today, naming freelance writer Lwandile Fikeni overall Arts Journalist of the Year.

The winners list includes ten gold and 23 silver awards made to individual journalists, and a gold and three silver awards to media organisations for their nurturing of arts journalism. Additionally, a Lifetime Achievement Award was given to broadcaster and writer Nigel Vermaas, citing his “commitment to covering music of all genres and to mentoring the next generation of arts journalists.”

Fikeni was given a silver award in the ‘Reviews’ category and a gold in ‘Features’, with the overall award coming his way on the basis of his versatility, and his ability to write “exceptionally well” for different audiences across a range of publications.

Commenting on the entries received, convenor of the judging panel Gwen Ansell said: “The range of writers, and the depth and commitment of the content, has been impressive. In a time when newsrooms are faced with shrinking resources, it’s been encouraging to see how some newsrooms still make the effort to source original, high-quality arts writing. In addition, we’re increasingly seeing relevant issues being raised by distinctive individual voices on blogs and websites.”

Among the websites and blogs awarded this year, were The Con, Africa Is A Country, Litnet, The Critter and Books LIVE. City Press was given the overall Gold Media Organisation Award, the prize for which is a scholarship for one of their journalists to take part in the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) Arts Journalism Course in early 2016. Other traditional publications such as Mail & Guardian and Sunday Times also dominated the final winners list.

More than 100 entries were received for the Awards, a “significant” increase on previous years, a figure that was described by the National Arts Festival as convenors of the Awards as “heartening”.

“As always, the largest numbers of entries were in the review and feature categories. But we have seen distinct growth this year in entries tackling hard news about the arts and creative industries and their debates & dilemmas. I hope that next year we’ll see a similar increase in entries from broadcasters and photographers: our smallest categories,” Ansell said.

The National Arts Festival and Business and Arts South Africa conceptualised and launched the Awards in 2013 to acknowledge some of the excellent work being done by arts journalists in newsrooms across the country.

“Journalists help us contextualise, understand, reflect on and make sense of the work of our artists and of the industry as a whole,” Festival CEO Tony Lankester said. “We need strong journalism to be recognised as something that underpins and gives meaning to what we do – through these awards we want to acknowledge those journalists who critically engage with the sector and not just who act as praise singers. Although giving praise where it is due is also welcomed!” he said.

Business and Arts South Africa, who have been funding the award since its inception, agree that the narrative of the arts sector, as it is portrayed in the media, is a critical part of the arts landscape. “Good arts journalism is a supporter and driver of narrative and of storytelling. BASA believes implicitly in this storytelling, in order to deepen and continuously interrogate the role and value of the arts in society,” BASA CEO Michelle Constant said.

The complete list of winners is as follows:

BASA/National Arts Festival South African
Arts Journalism Awards 2014/5

Final list of winners

   

CATEGORY: REVIEWS

Gold Winners

 

Name

Publication

Edward Tsumele

Assorted

Siya Ngcobo

Cue

Steve Kretzmann

The Critter

Silver Winners

 

Name

Publication

Ang Lloyd

Cape Times

Lwandile Fikeni

M&G

Maryke Roberts

Litnet

Michelle Magwood

Sunday Times

Nick Mulgrew

Assorted incl M&G, Cue

Nigel Vermaas

Cue

Roger Young

City Press

Sindi_Leigh McBride

Africa Is A Country

Thabo Jijana

The New Age

   

CATEGORY: NEWS

Gold Winners

 

Name

Publication

Garreth Van Niekerk

City Press

Jennifer Malec

Books LIVE

Silver Winners

 

Name

Publication

Patience Bambalele

Sowetan

Sue Blaine

Business Day

   

CATEGORY: FEATURES

Gold Winners

 

Name

Publication

Grethe Koen

City Press

Lloyd Gedye

The Con

Lwandile Fikeni

City Press

Silver Winners

 

Name

Publication

Ashraf Jamal

Art Africa

Athi Mongezeleli Joja

M&G

Christiaan J De Swardt

Vrouekeur

Gugulethu Mhlungu

City Press

Siphesihle Mthembu

M&G

Stefanie Jason

M&G

Sue De Groot

Sunday Times Lifestyle

Tymon Smith

Sunday Times Lifestyle

   

CATEGORY: SOUNDS/BROADCAST

Gold Winners

 

Name

Publication

Nigel Vermaas

Assorted

Silver Winners

 

Name

Publication

Jessica Mulder

ENCA

Lerato Thipa

SABC

   

CATEGORY: STILL PHOTOGRAPHY

Gold Winners

 

Name

Publication

Bertram Malgas

Netwerk24

Silver Winners

 

Name

Publication

Madelene Cronje

M&G

Moeletsi Mabe

TMG/The Times

   

CATEGORY: ORGANISATIONAL AWARD

Gold Winners

 

Publication

City Press

Silver Winners

 

Publication

Art Africa

CueTube

Mail & Guardian

   

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Nigel Vermaas

   

ARTS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR

Lwandile Fikeni (City Press)

Judging Panel 2015:

Gwen Ansell (Convenor)

Andrew Tshabangu

Sean O’Toole

Darryl Accone

Robyn Sassen

Rafs Mayet

Percy Mabandu

Jayne Morgan