Standard Bank of South Africa Limited

Standard Bank of South Africa Limited, with the National Arts Festival – Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown.

Standard Bank has a 151-year history in South Africa, and started building a franchise in the rest of Africa in the early 1990s.  The bank currently operates in 20 countries on the African continent, including South Africa, as well as in other selected emerging markets.  Standard Bank subscribes to the Code of Banking Practice, a set of principles governing banking in South Africa and ensuring the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, and fairness.  Furthermore, Standard Bank is involved in community activities, including bursaries awarded to top performers and sponsorships.  The Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, is in partnership with the National Arts Festival.

The National Arts Festival is the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent, making use of approximately 50 venues throughout the Grahamstown area for 11 days over June/July.  It consists of a Main and Fringe programme, both administered by the National Arts Festival Office, comprising drama, dance, physical theatre, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art exhibitions, film, student theatre, street theatre, lectures, craft fair, workshops, tours (of the city and surrounding historic places) and a children’s arts festival.  The event has always been open to all regardless of race, colour, sex or creed – the lack of censorship or artistic restraint made the festival a forum for political and protest theatre during apartheid, and it still offers an opportunity for experimentation, a forum for new ideas and is an indicator of future trends in the arts.

Standard Bank has been a sponsor of the National Arts Festival since 1984, and in 1991 the bank took over the jazz festival.  In 1998 the bank also took over support of the National Youth Jazz Festival, and both festivals were united under one umbrella to create one of the leading jazz properties in South Africa.

The festival reaches a niche, discerning audience.  It operates in a genderless, non-racial environment that feeds the intellect, is aspirational in nature, and provides opportunities for unique hospitality experiences that support relationship building objectives.  It features a dedicated long-term programme of education and development, encouraging youth participation and excellence in jazz professions and performances.  The festival attracts high levels of loyalty and recognition from the jazz community and audiences.  This sponsorship has also formed the basis for Standard Bank’s ownership of the Jazz genre generally – territory that can be utilised by the Bank to great effect in driving business and deepening relationships with key stakeholders and customers.

This festival has a major impact on the music industry as a whole, developing skills, strengthening business and entrepreneurial expertise, and creating job opportunities.  It contributes to improved social interaction and understanding as young musicians from varied backgrounds spend a week learning and playing music together.  Support of the jazz festival impacts on the contribution to the overall festival which is the biggest income generator and job creator in one of the poorest regions of the country.  It positions Standard Bank as a leading organisation in South Africa, through the provision of select “money can’t buy hospitality” opportunities, as well as providing opportunities to drive relationship banking propositions where relevant.

The way Standard Bank approaches the investment in the Standard Bank Jazz Festival demonstrates how a company can effectively balance the three key targets and beneficiaries of arts sponsorship – audiences, artists and brand – and deliver value to all three.  The partnership goes beyond merely writing cheques and erecting branding.  The bank has contributed to the shaping and direction of the Jazz Festival over several decades, building it into one of the country’s most respected music events, while never intruding on, and always remaining true to, the event’s core values.