by Njabulo Mngomezulu

Lessons for arts journalists

Arts journalists learn the Jazz ropes

Participants register for the Arts Journalism Programme
CTIJF2013_FOCUS SCHOOLS_PHOTOGRAPHER Gregory Franz_COURTESY ESPAFRIKA © ...-1.jpg

Since its inception in 2002, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) Arts Journalism Programme has helped expand the careers of more than 170 journalists, and along the way developed a long list of inspiring success stories.

One of the programme’s former participants, Andrew Mulenga, won the 2012 CNN Multichoice Arts and Culture Journalism Award for his story on Malian Kora music, while two other attendees – Attiyah Khan and Leila Dougan – were inspired to study further, enrolling for a master's degree in Arts Journalism at the University of Southern California.

Another programme participant, pianist, band leader and composer of the Black Rose African Jazz Orchestra, Johanna Booysen, had no previous formal writing training, having trained as a professional musician. As a result of the course, however, she began filing arts stories for community newspapers. Since then, Booysen has written for the Parliamentary Monitoring Group and several other organisations.

Mozambican arts journalist Maria Gabriela Moreira, who attended the 2012 course, started her own journalism training programme in conjunction with the Maputo Film Festival, based on Gwen Ansell’s workshop. Moreira says she would definitely recommend the course to other journalists.

“It was a personal and professional experience in a friendly environment that was full of energy. I regained confidence in myself and my writing. The best part of the workshop is that it turned out to be a fantastic life-changing lesson,” says Moreira.

Each year, the CTIJF Arts Journalism Programme is facilitated by leading arts journalist Gwen Ansell, with the aim of developing and promoting arts journalism in South Africa.

Being the only short course of its kind in South Africa, the programme follows a curriculum that is part of the National Certificate in Journalism, ranked at Level Five on the National Qualifications Framework. This curriculum is approved by the South African Qualifications Authority.

This year, the CTIJF Arts Journalism Programme takes place from 30 March to 6 April at the Fountains Hotel in Cape Town. Some 50 applications were received before the closing date, out of which just 15 applicants were selected.

“The programme is both theoretical and practical, and takes journalists through the history of music, journalism and the arts. Journalists attend the Cape Town International Jazz Festival as part of their practical experience, where they cover the event as professional working journalists and are given access to all media-related activities,” says Ansell.

According to festival director and espAfrika chief executive, Rashid Lombard, the programme is very interactive and creates a space where young cadets can develop their craft, and more experienced working professionals can fine-tune their approaches and discuss any issues around reporting and writing about music and the arts in South Africa.

Past participants have included arts journalists from media houses such as Media24, Mail & Guardian, Independent Newspapers and PriMedia, as well as published freelance writers and bloggers. Many of them have enjoyed much success in both academia and the media after completing the course.

The CTIJF Arts Journalism Programme forms part of the festival’s Sustainable Training and Development (T&D) programme, which turns the two-day jazz gig into eight days of learning, career development and fun in the music and entertainment industries. 

The expanding development arm of the CTIJF is sponsored by The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF), which came on board this year as a principal funder of the T&D programme, joining the national department of arts and culture, the SABC and the City of Cape Town - all long-standing sponsors and partners of the initiative.

The South Atlantic Arts and Culture Trust is the vehicle through which the sponsorship funds are channelled.

Paul Mashatile, minister of arts and culture, says: “The department of arts and culture is proud to be associated with this vital component of the annual jazz event, as it opens up new opportunities and expands awareness of the power of arts and culture in our society.”

“The SABC is proud to be part of this amazing skills development programme. The partnership extends beyond broadcasting and talks to shared values and a desire for skills transfer to happen,” says Kaizer Kganyago, spokesperson for the SABC.

NLDTF CEO Charlotte Mampane says: “Our investment in the T&D programme of the 2013 festival is a valuable investment for the development of the music and entertainment industries.

“The programme has survived and succeeded because of the festival's unflappable support since 2002, as well as that of many other donors who have made it possible for aspiring arts writers to participate, regardless of their financial circumstances."

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