Triumph of Lockdown Collection at awards ceremony is triumph of human spirit over adversity

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

This is where innovation and creativity met, resulting in a collaboration that has demonstrated the triumph of human spirit over diversity, especially when big and willing brains work together in harmony for a common, good, a common cause with a real impact on people’s lives.

That effort, the vision and commitment to the cause has been rewarded handsomely this week at the South African Business and Arts (BASA), awards ceremony, held virtually on Monday, August 30, 2021, where the innovative project Lockdown Collection, born during and out of the Covid-19 pandemic, walked away with two awards.

The conceptualisation was straight forward: Putting together a selection of artworks, created by artists during this difficult Covid-19 lockdown, restrictions and all, and sell the art works to raise funds that you can give out to struggling artists during these difficult times. That is straight forward, but the complications come in with regards to the execution. Rules are in place regulating movement, work and human interactions, and therefore the question arises about how do artists get to work, and how do to art collectors get to see the art works, let alone the transportation of the art works to these buyers.

These are some of the difficulties the organisers of the Lockdown Collection faced. But they succeeded beautifully, not only managing to achieve sell outs of the several series of the Lockdown Collection, but have managed to raise more  than R3 million that they gave out as grants to struggling artists during this hard time.

The team behind this success is a formidable one, led by creative consultant Lauren Woolf, the founder and director of Mrs. Woolf, Carl Bates and academic and co-founder of Artists Proof Studio  Professor Kim Berman.

“In March 2020 on the eve of the SA lockdown,Carl Bates called me with a crazy idea. I said yes and called up a willing third party, Kim Berman. We went on in just 48 hours to launch #thelockdowncollection: An innovative art sales initiative to raise funds for vulnerable artists through Covid.
“After multiple Collections and other projects since then, we have raised over R3.5 million and given hundreds of grants and bursaries.The three of us have never been in the same room at the same time,” wrote Woolf on her tsocial media timeline immediately after the projected snatched two awards at the virtual award ceremony on Monday.

She added, “Today we were awarded two of South Africa’s most significant art awards – The Award for the most significant SMME (Mrs Woolf) and First Time Sponsor (Sirdar) – together with Artist Proof studio- for our contribution to the arts.. I am overjoyed this project was recognised so that more businesses are inspired to support the arts and creativity, but also to show what is possible in a virtual world.
Purpose has power beyond a pandemic. Beyond geography and timezone. Thank you to every single person and organisation involved in this magic.”

The complete list of the winners is as follows:

The Beyond Borders Partnership Award Standard Bank of South Africa Limited and African Artists for Development (AAD), forLumieresd’Afriques; a touring group exhibition comprising 54 artists from each country making up the African continen.t

The Community Development AwardRand Merchant Bank, a division of FirstRand Ltd, and Outreach Foundation, for Letters to You and Me – an intergenerational project.

The First-Time Sponsor Award Sirdar and Artist Proof Studio, forThe Lockdown Collection, which was developed to run during the initial 21 days of the lockdown, to capture the unprecedented times through the eyes of prominent South African artists as a live-online auction.

The Innovation AwardMTN SA Foundation and UJ Art Gallery, for UJ’s Moving Cube breaks ground with MTN’s Blind Alphabet. The Blind Alphabet Project: Letter B – Babery to Bigeminate (1993) from the MTN Art Collection was produced in line with a digital experience promoted as part of MTN and UJ’s venture into the 4IR age.

The Long-Term Partnership Award recognises outstanding initiative and commitment to the arts over a longer term period (at least three years) as an integral part of the sponsor’s strategy. The value to the arts project, the broader community and the sponsor, must be apparent- Nando’s and Spier Arts Trust, forthe Nando’s Creative Exchange, established in 2011 to recognise emerging Southern African fine artists who demonstrate exceptional ability.

The SMME Award is for vital support given to the arts by a micro, small or medium enterprise with up to 200  full-time employees and an annual turnover of no more than R10 million- The winner is MRS WOOLFandArtist Proof Studio, for The Lockdown Collection, on, a Canadian Green Recovery Collection and also an Open Call Collection launched in 2021.

The Sponsorship In-Kind Award acknowledges a sponsor giving quantifiable and impactful non-monetary support to the arts.  This may be through in-kind provision of equipment, materials, media or PR support, space, transportation or travel, or any other products or services, as opposed to monetary sponsorship- The winner is the Royal Hotel Riebeek KasteelandArts Town Riebeek Valley, for theRoyal Arts Town Amphitheatre Summer Theatre Season, which was formed to address the crisis in the performing arts and to contribute to the survival of both the arts and tourism industries that are amongst the most fragile in the local economy. It also provided live theatre events for audiences starved of artistic and cultural events because of the COVID-19 pandemic – the Summer Theatre Season comprised ten new and existing professional productions, curated and presented under safe, socially distanced open air circumstances.

The BASA Chairperson’s Advocacy Award– The recipient is Durban’s JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, joins an illustrious roll-call of previous winners such as the Centre for the Less Good Idea (2020), the Eon Group (2019), Joburg Art Fair (2016) and The Handspring Puppet Company (2015), amongst others.

Filmed at multiple locations in Cape Town and Johannesburg, this year’s ceremony has been directed by Alby Michaels and features Rootspring artists, Jitsvinger, Zolani (The One Who Sings) and Native Young. Former BASA Supporting Grant recipient, Iziko Museum of South Africa, is the lead venue partner and the online BASA Awards experience is available at

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