Transcript of the Address by Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) CEO, Ashraf Johaardien, at the PPC Imaginarium Awards 2019 Gala.

Thank you Tumy. Yesterday in our staff meeting at Business and Arts South Africa, Tumy asked me how I wanted her to introduce me here this evening. I suggested a brief interpretative dance (as is my wont), or perhaps an original a cappella praise song. So, since she didn’t, I will. (Pause). Or… let’s not and just pretend I did (laughter). Thanks Tumy. And thank you PPC for this opportunity. And for five exceptional years of the PPC Imaginarium platform.

It’s really great to be back on my old stomping ground, albeit with a new hat on. I have loved this theatre and the UJ Art Gallery since they were first built. It was at the UJ Arts Centre that curator, Annali Dempsey, first taught me about the critical role [that] universities play in acquiring and preserving works of national interest for future generations of art maker, art lovers, and indeed, every future South African. Congratulations Annali, not only for an extraordinary job with the UJ Art Collection, but also for your annual programme, which continues to host and present artists, exhibitions and competitions of national significance.

Although I am new to Business and Arts South Africa (I’ve only been in the CEO’s seat for just over a month), I have been active in the creative sector for roughly twenty years. That’s about as long as BASA has been in existence, and also incidentally how long Annali has been the curator at UJ (applause).

Founded in 1997, as a joint initiative between the Department of Arts and Culture, and the corporate sector, BASA is a public-private partnership [that] formed part of South Africa’s strategy to secure greater involvement in the arts, and support from businesses in South Africa.

PPC is one of BASA’s hugely valued and long-standing corporate members. Historically, PPC has offered a deep engagement in the arts, and in particular through the PPC Imaginarium Competition. Over the years, PPC has been the recipient of no [fewer] than seven BASA Awards, and projects supported by PPC have been awarded a total of six BASA supporting grants to date.

In closing, I would like to share a tiny gem from futurist and wonder junkie Jason Silva. Jason says: “Ideas are powerful because they allow us to see the world as it could be, rather than just as what it is.” And for me that is what the PPC Imaginarium platform is all about: unlocking the power of innovation, fuelled by the imagination.

Thank you.


For more information about the PPC Imaginarium Art and Design Competition please visit

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