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You cannot wander too far in SA’s arts landscape without bumping into someone who has benefited directly or indirectly from Standard Bank’s sponsorship over the past few decades. As an arts writer and journeyman wordsmith, I have been a direct beneficiary. So I was, initially, loath to wade into the somewhat murky waters of the bank’s recent decision to end its support of the National Jazz Festival and its vital offshoot, the National Youth Jazz Festival.
But the announcement, made shortly before the event — which forms part of the annual National Arts Festival in Makhanda — in 2022 caused great consternation among jazz musicians and fans alike, and has had a ripple effect in other arts communities. Though Standard Bank will continue as one of the presenting sponsors of the festival as a whole, and has committed to maintaining its Young Artist Awards and Ovation Awards programmes for the next three years, a growing perception in the always beleaguered SA arts sector is that an...
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