The ninth edition of the Thapong Visual Arts Awards is set to roll, an annual event that honours artists who have excelled in their different artistic fields.
The awards aim to inspire artists to strive to higher and original forms of creativity and provide an opportunity for arts disciplines to jointly market and publicise the arts locally, regionally and internationally.
This year’s awards will cover drawing, painting, sculptor, design and crafts. The awards were first held in 2004. Thapong Arts Centre’s Executive Director, Reginald Bakwena, said this year’s awards will be bigger and better. 2011 awards recorded a resounding success with an audience of 300 people.
Last year’s awards also attracted a remarkable 104 entries from local artists, amongst them 67 upcoming artists as well as 26 females.
“The annual wards stimulate more interest in the arts and raise the profile of the same,” he said. He, however, encouraged females to take arts seriously.
Bakwena said the quality of products is improving with the standard rising each year since the first awards.
“We are striving for excellence and we have a large number of artists striving for that excellence,” said Bakwena.
An enthusiastic Bakwena said of particular interest is the fact that since the early years when the grand prize was a meager P3, 500, the awards have now grown to offer the winner P30, 000 which is the highest prize payout for any single artist in the country.
The awards reinforce the visibility of Batswana artists through the sale of art pieces, and have the potential to significantly grow the creative industry as a future contributor to the economic development of the country.
When the awards were first launched, the competition was only open to artists who were resident at the centre and only seven artists participated in the pioneering award ceremony, where the competition was won by a painter.
The 2011 awards first price was scooped by an art teacher from Molepolole College of Education who walked away with the P25, 000 prize money, while the runner-up won himself P20, 000.
The annual awards will take place on the 15th November 2012. Thapong sees this initiative as a building block towards growing the country’s arts to be able to contribute towards the diversification of Botswana’s tourism portfolio.
Bakwena said participants and winners of the Award have been invited to participate in exchange programmes overseas.
The coordinator revealed funding as the major challenge faced by artists.
“We need funding to sustain ourselves and our work,” he said, adding that training and capacity building are important facets that artists are missing out on.