Opinion: Art mArtyr – The HR/PR/A&R Axis, Or Seeing The Bigger Picture

November 26, 2014



It is imperative that all those involved in the arts and culture industry see the bigger picture. By bigger picture I mean that it takes more than just the front-end of the business – directors, cast members, scriptwriters, etc. to contribute to the improvement of the arts.

One of the most crucial parts of the entire picture is the marketing of the arts, something that media plays a huge role in. Unfortunately, more harm than good can sometimes come out of this.

This is a heartfelt plea to all those media decision makers: please think carefully about who you choose to be the voice of your establishment and arts coverage.

Firstly, there is radio.

For some reason, many radio station managers do not appreciate the respect that the arts and culture deserve. Without implicating any particular stations, there is a recent wave where midday slots are reserved for the arts and culture, but presented by moonlighting sports/weather presenters. With all due respect, what do they know? I am all for giving people a break, but what happened to giving the job to the best man or woman?

What this trend has led to are arts shows that have absolutely nothing to do with the arts. Instead, influential arts practitioners who are involved in shows currently on stages throughout South Africa are being interviewed about their favourite perfume and what they like doing first thing in the morning. Authors are invited and instead of touching on pertinent issues that are covered in their books, they end up discussing the weather. Or something at least as banal.

Then there is television.

There is a channel dedicated to just about everything under the sun – retirement living, agriculture, re-runs of Baywatch – but there is not a channel specifically meant for the arts.

What this means is that what is meant to be entertaining is ironically actually not being broadcast.

The bigger picture also means understanding that there really is enough content to fill an entire TV channel with riveting content. There really is enough engaging content to fill midday shows on radio. If you do not believe this, have a look at how many people post illegal recordings online, footage gathered at theatre shows and comedy nights at clubs. How can millions of people view content online without transferring similar ideas to more conventional media being a possibility?

There is always a story behind the story, and only once those who are responsible for choosing the faces and voices that represent the media do their jobs properly can we say that we have a chance of getting the big picture.