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SBYA: The inside story

Dineo Bopape, the performance art winner

The most hotly debated art awards have to be Standard Bank Young Artist. Often the winners are predictable, though this year the winner of the visual arts Beth Armstrong and Dineo Bopape for Performance art were a surprise as neither of these artists are established in either field – Bopape’s main practice is installation and not performance and Armstrong has not made huge headway as a sculptor. It is not to say that neither of these winners are not deserving, they were simply unexpected choices. It makes a change. Given how much status is attached to this award you would expect more transparency around it. There is little or none, however, which is hugely frustrating. Not sure what the benefits are in shrouding the whole thing in mystery. Even the press releases around the announcement do not outline who are on the judging committee the adjudication process or the prize money. This year instead of quizzing the winners, I decided to turn the spotlight on the process. Tony Lankester, the National Arts Festival Director responded to my questions.

SBYA is one of the most important art awards in the country; who is on the judging committee - is it the National Arts Festival committee?

Yes – the Awards are made by the National Arts Festival Artistic Committee. Their names are published each year in the Festival programme. (note to reader: the festival programme only comes out 8 months after the award winners are announced)

For what length have members of the committee served and what is the policy around the length of their service?

Most on the Committee have served just one year – the current members are:

Brett Bailey