Last night I attended a fascinating book launch with the author Aubrey Hruby regarding the book she co-authored with Jake Bright, titled ‘The Next Africa’.
The book covers topics such as ‘Africa in 50 years time’; ‘Capital is king’ and a chapter I found superb, called ‘The rise of African consumer power’. What struck me was the way big business is finding innovative ways to get consumers to purchase their products. Some of the lessons can be applied to the arts .We are all businesses, be they micro or macro, yet we sometimes don’t take the lessons from books like this, and apply them to our own situation.
One person who does is Alistair Izobell. He has this year produced, or been involved in, a myriad of different events be they comedy, shows on a cruise liner, performing and singing on stage, or staging ‘Music Alla Kaap’, with a different cast each year. Last year’s headliner was Hotstix Mabuse and this year RJ Benjamin was the main act. Now he is back in theatre mode, with his new show running over the festive season at the Baxter called ‘Remembering the Lux’. (Sounds like it could be a soap advert, but that’s beside the point.) He has morphed himself into a multi-skilled impresario and surrounded himself with people who buy into his vision. His shows might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s not the point. He is doing it and making the best of what he has in putting bums on seats and ultimately making money.
Another group who celebrated their 10th year in existence last week is the Cape Music Institute, which started as a dream in Ezra Delport’s Kensington lounge together with the multi-talented Camillo Lombard. Mentors who work behind the scenes include Craig Stein and Sophia Foster. The school has been working on the Cape Flats and is based in Athlone, where it pushes wonderful musical talent. They teach kids to play musical instruments and make a living from music. They had a vision and no money when they started, much like the NPC Music Exchange, which will be six-years-old next year, but continue to work with limited funding to push talent to the next level. The much loved band Top Dog lecture on a regular basis and teach at Cape Music Institute, and for me the over arching theme has been a vision can be achieved with hard work and perseverance. It does not need millions to start a dream, or live a dream. Two words: “hard work” – and be able to take criticism on the chin; understand from where it comes, and embrace it.
Another lovely themes at the book launch was ‘South African’s love robust debate’. Now let’s apply that in 2016, and stop looking at everything with a ‘what’s in it for me attitude’ or a myopic view. Embrace what you have and listen. Strange things happen when you stop loving the sound of your own voice.