How the Arts Supports a Healthy Society

Can Art Change Society? This was a question I posed to art specialist Mary Corrigall, who together with myself and fellow colleague Neo Mashigo will be judging M&C Saatchi’s inaugural Art for Change Prize in partnership with the iconic Saatchi Gallery later this year, writes Robert Grace, Founding Partner & Head of Strategy at M&C Saatchi Abel South Africa.

In 1988 I attended my first National Arts Festival. I was nine, and had never experienced such unbelievable creativity. I returned in 1994, when Sam Nhlengethwa won the Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year award whose work still sits with me. The experience of the National Arts Festival changed my perspective, and made me more aware of the realities facing our new democracy and my place in it. It was an invaluable experience that’s stuck with me and I believe speaks to the influential power of art and creativity.

Yet the arts still feel under-recognised and under-supported. As a country I believe we should be doing more to support this vital sector. Fortunately, I find myself in a position today where I can stand as an advocate for this form of creativity and make a case for its value.

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