Creative MBA a new take

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Henley Business School dean Jon Foster-Pedley announces the Johnny Clegg Scholarship for a music and creative industries MBA. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso.

Johannesburg - Artists are often unsuccessful with money, but now there is a course that plans to change this.

The Henley Business School has introduced an MBA for the music and creative industries.

The MBA – a first in Africa – will be the conventional master’s degree programme, with an extension to include the creative industry.

This MBA is focused on teaching by international and seasoned professionals such as intellectual property and brand lawyers, digital-marketing experts and others from the entertainment industry.

Henley Business School dean Jon Foster-Pedley said that traditionally, MBAs have in the main been pursued by individuals in the banking, manufacturing, mining and engineering sectors.

He said people working in these traditional industries need to work with more creativity and innovation, while people in the creative industry need to acquire skills to sharpen their business acumen and enable them to turn their talent into a commercial success.

“South Africa’s future depends on the growth of the creative industry. If you look at Nigeria’s economy now, it’s growing at a much higher rate than ours. China is growing at 7 percent, and we are growing at not even 2 percent.”

Foster-Pedley said creative companies usually grew three or four times the growth rate of the traditional industry. They are the ones who spearhead the growth

.

As an example, he used the world’s major film industries: India’s Bollywood, Nigeria’s Nollywood and the US’s Hollywood.

Nollywood was the second largest sector in the Nigerian economy, according to him.

“It’s got something like a $800 million (about R8.4 billion) turnover and employs a million people.

“Look at the film industry in South Africa. Some very talented people come to this country.

“Creative industries prompt creative thinking, and MBAs have to change to cater for that,” Foster-Pedley added.

“We see artists who create things, but what do they have?

The depth of capability we have in the music and film industry is immense. With a bit more discipline and business acumen, we can start to make more headway for these film industries,” Foster-Pedley said.

He pointed out that successful candidates will start with the MBA in the music and creative industries.

Of these candidates, one will be selected by Henley Business School and veteran and award-winning musician Johnny Clegg to study towards the MBA free of charge, as a beneficiary of the Johnny Clegg Scholarship.

Clegg has partnered with Henley in the establishment of this scholarship, and they will together decide who receives it.

“We’re looking for someone who has accomplished something. We love people who, because of their passion for their art and their music, have had to pay their dues. We want someone who has demonstrated they’ve got capabilities and have developed themselves and their business.

“A criterion is that the candidate should have a sense of Africa, that they will build on that, as well as have a commitment to serving others.

“Somebody with a sense of reality… who cares, who informs, educates and uplifts through their art. We want to amplify that by educating them. It’s all about character, determination and achievement,” Foster-Pedley said.

He added that someone like Clegg encapsulated the kind of person this MBA was aimed at.

“To me he’s one of the icons of activism, he pioneered cross-cultural music… he brought and created a new idea with music. Clegg established himself (without a formal qualification). To me he’s a wonderful icon,” said Foster-Pedley, who is a fan of Clegg’s music.

“We’re thrilled about this collaboration with Johnny Clegg. As an artist, his story is applicable to the principles of this MBA – he harnessed his creativity as an artist and applied sound business principles to ensure that his art reached audiences the world over. He transformed perceptions, improved our lives and is commercially successful. This is at the heart of what the MBA has set out to achieve,” he explained.

Clegg admitted that he had to learn the business side of his career by trial and error.

“In many respects I was self-taught. With over 30 years in the industry, what I’ve learnt is that information is power – and to date, little has been offered by academia to address how our work in the arts is structured and plays out.

“I’m excited to be part of empowering artists through this scholarship, and working with Henley to share this opportunity with the right candidate,” Clegg added.

“This is an important scholarship. You’ve got to give confidence and optimism and at the same time rigour, discipline and learning. Learning is hard, and through it, people discover what they’re capable of.” - The Star


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