James Francis talks to Khanyi Mamba on her trip to the boardroom table. She’s a board member at Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), that encourages mutually beneficial partnerships between business and the arts, procuring the future development of the arts industry in South Africa.

As a supporter and lover of the arts, the few opportunities were as inviting to Mamba as to join the board of BASA. Founded in 1997, this internationally recognised development agency pushes mutually valuable relationships between business and artwork, effectively forging public-private partnerships.

Among its noteworthy successes are Connecting Creative Markets, a way for artists to pursue international art instruction, and #artMOVESme, an ongoing participatory campaign that encourages public participation with art. Most recently it established Conduct The Orchestra, an event co-hosted by the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival through that six prominent business leaders picked up the baton to conduct a professional orchestra.


These kinds of creative messes help society to see worth in artwork, so it’s not surprising that Mamba watched an area to live out their passion. Nonetheless, it being her first board experience she’d her uncertainties. ‘To be frank, at the start I was very nervous, since I didn`t know what to anticipate,’ she says, ‘I totally love the arts, so, I was completely excited to join a group performing so much impressive work to support the artwork sector — not just in South Africa but across the entire world. The most important and most pleasant surprise for me was that everyone in the room really shares a huge passion for the arts and also that the boardroom is not quite as cold and emotionless as it could be perceived from the outside’. This passion goes beyond boosting South African imagination; the arts have been often described as the mirror of culture, and at a country facing many social challenges, then there’s a chance to utilize art as a conduit for genuine and meaningful change.


“A board’s role will be to see That a business has a solid strategy and vision for sustainable growth, and that firm funds are well managed to support their vision and mission,”

Mamba states, “South Africa is a country where unemployment remains a huge challenge and any company that can contribute to economic development by providing secure employment is an tremendous asset. It assists in raising the quality of lifestyle and living standards of families and the community at large”.

This can be done through secure and financially sound businesses, which come into being due to healthy and well-intentioned boards. Understanding that the function of the board really isn’t the top of a pyramid, but instead a critical part of the company organism that supports and facilitates the remainder of the business and creates room for it to grow and grow. “It’s important that specific lines aren’t crossed and that the board does not deviate from its primary mandate: it must be clearly documented and communicated regarding what extend the plank could be involved.”


As a young and energised associate of a dominant plank, one which is helping shape the future, how does Mamba see her new duties?

“I feel the age of board members hiding behind the key boundaries of a boardroom is slowly shifting. We can no longer, as board members only say we don`t worry ourselves too much with what’s going on in the day-to-day running of the company. We must be held liable not just when things are going well, but also when there really are a serious obstacle within the organisation”.

The article CREATIVE PROFITS appeared on Business and Arts South Africa.