Nando’s Artists Society: Doing good while doing business

Nando’s Artists Society recently stepped into the spotlight when it took home a Silver Loerie in the Shared Value category. I speak to Kirsten Niehaus from Nando’s about the Nando’s Artists Society artist-career development programme.

Marlise Keith

How does Nando’s Artists Society work?
Nando’s Artists Society (NAS) is one of several artist-career development programmes developed by non-profit organization Yellowwoods Art in patron partnership with Nando’s to fire up Southern African creativity in art. Nando’s Artists Society is structured to give 20 invited members  – each mid-career artists living in Southern Africa and emerging in a local and/or international context – the life-changing freedom to focus full-time on their artistic career, and the structure to explore and expand their creative practice, knowing that this gives them the potential to earn a decent and regular living from their work. The NAS programme package is targeted at an active creative membership of invited artists, enhancing their engagement with the arts as creators, dreamers and pioneers of culture. Of utmost importance is that the artists’ concept and freedom of expression, and this is reverently protected in the space we provide, which is unique and powerful in terms of true social investment. On a set date each month NAS artists meet representatives of Yellowwoods Art. Each artist brings along their own most recent experimental work – created on NAS canvases supplied to artists as part of the programme for which artists are paid a set fee depending on the size of the canvas.

Christo Basson

Do artists in Nando’s Artists Society benefit from creative input?
Yes, curation is a pivotal process and curatorial time is spent with each artist, where every single work is critiqued with the intention of helping artists to be critical in the work they produce, to develop elements such as style and concept, to help them with career development in the long run.

Marlise Keith

Do both the artists and Nando’s directly benefit from the selection of work created within this programme?
Let’s start with the artists! After hand-in day artists are paid within a week for works purchased. We also give artists a Chicken Cheque (Nando’s food voucher) for each work purchased, which is another way of putting food on the table, and of bringing the artists, together with their families and friends, into Nando’s restaurants. It’s also important to mention that artists are never obligated to deliver works at each and every monthly NAS hand in. The potential of regular income enables NAS artists to manage their own time and space for talent and concept incubation, and to develop their practice, meaning that they can submit or exhibit works when they are ‘comfortable’ with the quality and potentially with a more meaningful body of work. If an artist has a big independent commission or gallery show coming up, they can tailor their time according to the needs and pressures of their own career.

From Nando’s perspective African creativity is truly part of the DNA and cultural heartbeat of the Nando’s brand. Nando’s business and art are intrinsically intertwined, adding value and meeting the brand’s business objectives. Each unique Nando’s restaurant around the world features curated Southern African art that reflects Nando’s heartfelt intention to grow and share blazing hot Southern African creativity. Only high-quality works are selected throughout the NAS process of experimentation, building on Nando’s growing global collection of original Southern Africa art. These are some of the direct benefits, but it’s a ‘wing-wing’ scenario in many more ways.

Marlise Keith

Tell us about Nando’s Artists Society in relation to Nando’s growing global art collection?
Nando’s Artists Society contributes to developing the wealth of talent that enriches Nando’s growing collection of over 21 000 original Southern African artworks, all sourced from artist career-development programmes. These original artworks are shared for Nando’s guests’ enjoyment in more than 1 200 restaurants in 24 countries worldwide, making it the largest Southern African art collection displayed internationally, and a heritage collection for our country. Access to Nando’s restaurants is entirely democratic globally, with the relaxed casual dining vibe fostering enjoyable engagement with these Southern African artworks wherever they appear in Nando’s restaurants globally. Fostering a positive international relationship with a global audience through art is part of Nando’s mission to be ZA’s Ministry of PERi-positivity.

Christo Basson.

Who are the current members of Nando’s Artists Society?
Christo Basson, Daniella Mooney, Elize Vossgatter, Elsabe Milandri, Emalie Bingham, Emma Nourse, Fikile Mqhayi, Frans Smit, Henk Serfontein, Jan du Toit, Karen Cronje, Khaya Sineyile, Mandla Vanyaza, Marlise Keith, Nkoali Nawa, Ricky Dyaloyi, Sebastian Borckenhagen, Selvin November, Swain Hoogervorst and Xolile Mtakatya.

Tell us about the artworks you’ve chosen for this blog?
I’m fascinated by the work created by all the artists in Nando’s Artists Society. Christo Basson is currently top of mind for me as I love the huge public installation he recently worked on outside Nando’s Kyalami. Also, I recently spotted a work by Marlise Keith at Nando’s Florida at Goldman Crossing that really intrigued me, and this interview gave me the chance to go and have a look at, and share, some of her more recent NAS work.

Marlise Keith

If you’re a Southern African artist interested in getting involved in a Nando’s Art programme take a picture of your artwork/s, write a short bio and email it to

This blog was made possible by Nando’s.

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