Editor’s Note: Thank You for Loving Us
Editor Ace Moloi gives an abridged report of ART STATE’s first semester.
It is a tradition as if of nature that when the year takes a nosedive, we gather our thoughts around the fire of reflection to evaluate our performance throughout the year. So, this season, in addition to its festive mood, is a time for thinking back on the feats and defeats of our lives, so as to enter into the New Year with a full progress report.
I thus wish to fill the margins of my editor’s note with text that seeks to gauge Art State Online’s performance from the point of publication to date.
Art State was born out of a coffee conversation I had with a friend-cum-partner Mpho Matsitle in the early days of April, 2017. In this conversation we agreed that there’s a need for an organised, well-packaged and consistent critical space for Mangaung arts. This platform, we went on, will never claim to be a self-righteous saviour for anybody, but will in all professional ways owe its being to the arts and the arts alone.
Days faded into weeks and week constituted months, and there wasn’t a move on our side yet. We were applying ourselves – our skills, resources and exposure – to the idea, so as to birth it having completed the nine months cycle required of a healthy baby.
Crucially, we wanted this publication to be different and not compete with any other (pre)existing magazine and newspaper. Our social research indeed indicated that although there are many publications in the city, commercial and otherwise, digital and print, there wasn’t any institution that did what we wanted to do. This of course doesn’t mean our dream would perish had there been something of this sort in existence before us. No, there’s space for all of us.
On the backdrop of intense contemplation and wide consultation, on 1 August the proverbial baby was born, bearing the ambitious name of Art State: destined to be a creative and authoritative journalism platform for Mangaung arts.
With a team of just two additional members – Senior Writer Thato Rossouw and News Editor Teboho Mpholo – we marched in the face of a tornado to publish successively successful editions. Drawing on my experience in journalism and literature, including corporate communication and branding, I presented my fairly rich breast for the baby to suckle.
Mpho Matsitle, a Bachelor of Accounting Science graduate who has authored two books and founded a publishing platform called Art Fusion Literature, donated his firm grasp of Mangaung arts into our knowledge bank.
With the candid writings of literary critic and blogger Thato Rossouw, our reviews would become a double-edged sword for event organisers. But if Rossouw’s long-winded writing style collapsed some people’s attention span, former IRAWA Post editor and B.A Media Studies and Journalism graduate Teboho Mpholo would save the day with her wit for news, including the somewhat menial job of digging content.
Though this is by far the best writing team in the province, we will never stop fishing for talent. In the long run, Art State has to be a breeding ground and incubation hub for brilliant writing, critical thinking and creative imagination.
For example, the monthly contributions by rap connoisseur Thandeka Diphoko have earned us a seat in the local hip-hop assembly, and she has grown remarkably artistic as a feature writer. Through her, Art State has profiled the music of local artists in a manner that respects their art, and bequeaths them with, yes, nuance.
Now that the glory train is activated, Art State is the first publication to review Thandi Vellem’s explicit book, Life After Abortion, and the only space that has an open tab for reviewing radio shows in Mangaung. This on-air feature has kept local presenters on their toes, and is gradually becoming a silent member in management meetings of local stations.
By the shortest far, our Macufe Edition remains the brightest star in our sky. With it we captured the heart and soul of Macufe and related events, and digitally documented them for anybody’s reference. This we did in line with our goal to become a resource centre for people interested in the arts and culture happenings of Mangaung.
To affirm this objective, City Press – one of SA’s leading Sunday newspapers – cited our report on Macufe Jazz, and great musicians such as Simphiwe Dana and Thandiswa Mazwai appreciated our work openly.
Furthermore, Art State was invited to cover Prince Kaybee’s I Am Music Private Listening Session, held at Volvo Bloemfontein, on 21 September 2017. The album review scored the highest hits at the time, only to be overthrown by CRC Music about two months later.
Dwelling on the subject of website visits and online footprint, our website continues to welcome high numbers of visitors, and the average time spent on the site is satisfactory. Moreover, we have an increasing social media community, and some of the celebrated personalities in Mangaung arts are in our DMs.
Having strengthened our brand bargaining power in a short space of time, this publication has partnered with various stakeholders for PR, social media, branding and content management purposes. Our team provided digital media solutions for Thembekile Tshabalala’s HARVEST Live in Concert praise and worship extravaganza, Sipho Mnyakeni’s Dear Oliver Tambo musical, and other events.
Again, we took on several sponsored writing gigs in order to expose our clients to a wider market.
As we speak, we are the official media partner for Love, Crime and Johannesburg, a musical directed by actor, director and academic, Masedi Manenye.
There’s more I have left out, and more to follow, in the headquarters of Mangaung arts and culture.
On behalf of the Art State writing stars I pray for a larger territory in the coming year, a prosperous life for all our readers, and a healthy balance sheet for our clients.
FEATURED IMAGE: ART STATE team with Thembekile Tshabala after Harvest Live In Concert. CREDIT: Pule Maloleka