Absa remains committed to supporting the arts through its ongoing sponsorship of the renowned Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK). The annual arts festival has historically taken place in the Karoo town of Oudtshoorn and for its 2021 edition, the bank has added a virtual flavor to the festivities.
The festival, which was temporarily put on hold last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, will see Absa celebrating 16 years as a proud sponsor.
This year’s event will see Absa bringing innovations that will extend the reach of the festival beyond its usual territories, in the process introducing new audiences to the festival. The festival is held virtually and will be spread over three months, until November 2021.
Absa, as a purpose-led organization, will continue to bring the possibility of arts and artists to life through a series of virtual engagements, activations, and talks during the festival period.
Absa Senior Specialist Art Curator, Dr Paul Bayliss, says that the global COVID-19 pandemic has radically impacted many industries, and the arts industry is no exception. The pandemic has allowed Absa to advance its digital art presence to make visual arts more accessible to diverse audiences.
“As a Group, we saw an opportunity to launch the Absa Art Hotspot, where we could host our art exhibitions, masterclasses, and art auctions virtually as well as migrate certain elements of our art-related sponsorships and partnerships to online platforms. We are leading the charge in being digitally progressive in the visual arts,” he says.
“With our KKNK partners, we agreed to extend the Absa Art Hotspot to include the festival. Our virtual platform – the Virtual Absa Kuierkamer– mimics aspects of the host town of Oudtshoorn and will see us rolling out numerous online activities where visitors will be given access to a variety of multimedia content.
Our events will be scattered around the town and art lovers will be able to explore various landmarks and buildings, just as they would have done during the live festival. The platform boasts a host of unique interactive features, including a virtual art gallery, sculpture installation and even a digital guestbook. All of this functionality is hosted by a web-based application, allowing for a seamless desktop and mobile experience,” Bayliss adds.
The KKNK virtual gallery, also supported by Absa, opened earlier in the year with an exhibition titled “Emotion”. Hosted by the Absa Gallery, and curated by Dr Bayliss, the exhibition features bespoke artworks designed for the digital platform by previous Absa L’Atelier entrants.
One of the virtual experiences that will be hosted on the Virtual Absa Kuierkamer is a series of art documentaries titled “Beyond the Canvas”. The documentaries will focus on themes that have an impact on the South African visual arts landscape. The themes range from technology, social media, tourism, and graffiti, to recycling and food in relation to the visual arts and will include both local and international guests sharing their thoughts and experiences.
“As a financial institution, we agree that the growth that we want to achieve is inextricably linked to our firm commitment to be an active force for good in the communities in which we operate. The arts afford us the opportunity to play a shaping role in society by supporting fledgling as well as more established artists, through honing their skills, and stimulating the economy at large. We will use this year’s art documentaries and business talks to authentically speak about some of the more pertinent issues affecting not only the arts, but also the communities that we serve,” he says.
In addition, a series of six Business Talks will be hosted by Absa’s Retail and Business Banking division (RBB) over the three-month period and will also see numerous guests invited to partake in conversations to find solutions to some of the country’s pressing questions.
“Absa Relationship Banking is proud to be collaborating with the KKNK virtual festival by sharing relevant insights and valuable information pertaining to some of the business sectors on which we focus. Alongside industry specialists and business partners, we will be unpacking the sector landscape and its growth prospects during this disruptive time in our history. We will hear from Justin Schmidt on renewable energy and manufacturing, James Noble will shed some light on the world of franchising, while Abrie Rautenbach will look at what’s trending in agribusiness. Fiks Dlamini will focus on opportunities in the public sector landscape and Kgalaletso Tlhoaele will home in on the importance of enterprise development, all of which contribute to the sustainability of our country at large,” said Bayliss.
Another content-led initiative that will be driven by the bank during this period is the Coffee Table Talks with the award-winning presenter, Hannes van Wyk, popularly known as the Koffietafelgesprekke. The talks will cover topics such as the impact of COVID-19 on the arts and entertainment industries, as well as look at what the future may hold for the entertainment and arts industry.
The public will be able to access the talks once the Virtual Absa Kuierkamer goes live on 1 September 2021.
Activities in the Virtual Absa Kuierkamer will run from September 2021 until the end of November 2021. Content on the platform will be updated on a regular basis.
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