Mmegi Online :: 2012 Thapong Awards- bigger and better
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2012 Thapong Awards- bigger and better

With a P300,000 budget and a membership of close to 700 people, the 2012 Thapong Artist of the Year Awards or TAYA slated for November are expected to be bigger and better.
By MONKAGEDI GAOTLHOBOGWE
Staff Writer
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: 2012 Thapong Awards- bigger and better








Already, Mascom has  confirmed they will sponsor the awards and publicity for the event on television through Prime Time show.  Thapong Visual Arts Centre is expected to announce more sponsorship partners for the awards in due course.

This will be the 9th TAYA awards since they were first held in 2004. Thapong Arts Centre's Executive Director, Reginald Bakwena, told Showbiz that entries for the 2012  awards will be released early in October. Mindful of the fact that the 2011 award recorded a resounding success with a 300-strong audience at the ceremony, Bakwena says the bar must be raised higher.

Last year's awards also attracted an impressive  104 entries  from local artists, amongst them  67 upcoming artists  as well as  26 females; these numbers represented an all-in-all increase from 22 from the previous year.

The maiden TAYA awards were held in 2004 as a way of stimulating creativity among members of the centre through competition. At the time, 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.

Bakwena says with more outreach activities conducted by the centre, the number of entries has risen with each year; and Bakwena says even the standard has risen with each year since the first TAYA awards: "This year won't be any different; the adjudication will even be stiffer than last year because we are striving for excellence and we have  a large number of artists striving  for that excellence, as demonstrated by the high quality of entries in recent years," he tells Showbiz.

Of particular interest is the fact that since the early years when the  grand prize was a mere P3,500, the TAYA awards have now grown to offer the winner P25,000 which is the

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highest prize payout for any single artist in the country.

The coordinator of Thapong says they might beat the P25,000  prize money this year as a demonstration of the growth made in the arts sub-sector. The 2011 TAYA was won by an art teacher from Molepolole College of Education named Abednico Sechaba.  He gladly walked away with the P25,000 prize money, while the runner-up, Keatlaretse Kwati, won himself P20,000.

The young artist award was won by Roger Brown  who was awarded P10,000 and a P15,000 special award of recognition for long service in the arts was bestowed upon Kentse Bogatsu.Today, the winner of the 2011 TAYA Award is studying for a Master's degree in Fine Arts at the University of Sydney Australia: "The award stood him in good stead to win the scholarship," reckons Bakwena.

TAYA awards entrants usually enjoy the longest running exhibition at Thapong Visual Arts centre, resulting in more art works being bought by art collectors. The extended exhibition of  the TAYA 2011 works  at the Centre alone earned P134,666, according to records at Thapong.  Additionally, in the six months since the beginning of 2012, the Centre has sold P272,984 worth of artists' works.

Bakwena also says the TAYA awards help in branding Thapong as the authority in fine arts in the country: "The award strengthens the visibility of Batswana artists through the sale of art pieces, and has the potential to significantly grow the arts sector as a future contributor to the economic development of the country.

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," enthuses Bakwena. Some previous participants and winners of the Award have gone on to be invited to participate in exchange programmes in Africa and overseas.

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