Mandla Sibeko really is someone whose reputation precedes him. An extremely accomplished entrepreneur, his accolades include being nominated by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2010, serving as Director of Paarl Media Group and Chairman of Netforist South Africa, opening the second Pick ‘n Pay store ever in Soweto and serving as a trustee of loveLife and Raith Foundation; among many others.
In 2015, he added co-director of the FNB Joburg Art Fair to this extensive list. Now in his second round behind the wheel, Mandla was kind enough to chat with ArtThrob about his vision and goals for 2016’s fair.
ArtThrob: Having come from a prolific and varied entrepreneurial career, what were your expectations when you signed on as co-director of the FNB Joburg Art Fair last year?
Mandla Sibeko: I signed up on the basis of passion, I try do what I am passionate about in all my areas of business. I think we should bring art into all training in this country to develop creative ways to solve complex issues in leadership.
AT: How has your experience from 2015 shaped your vision for this year’s instalment?
MS: This year is the first year where I can say I was involved from the beginning. Last year made me realise how complex the art world was and how best to navigate these exciting complexities; which I fully embraced this year.
AT: As an art fair director yourself, what has your experience been like with the multitude of international art fairs? Are there things which FNB Joburg Art Fair can learn/borrow/pinch from the international circuit?
MS: We are a small market but we are dynamic, we have a fantastic Eco system, really passionate gallery owners and amazing artists. We are becoming more and more international, we have benchmarked looking at the best but will keep refining certain aspects to suit a pan African audience.
AT: What are you most looking forward to this year?
MS: An exciting line up of South African Art and of works from East Africa. I feel that the fair will be representative of the diversity, energy and vibrancy of this city.
AT: How has the cultural landscape shifted in South Africa (and Joburg in particular) in the nine years since the first Joburg Art Fair? What role do you think JAF has played in this?
MS: Before JAF, there was no economy for artists such as this platform, so it has become a must-go-to place over the years on the calendar. We helped position Joburg beyond shopping and hardcore business deals.
AT: Would you consider yourself an art collector?
MS: I buy what I like over many years, it’s this passion that brought me to this role.
AT: This fair has a large contingent of special projects and platforms. How do you balance the commercial needs of the fair with a more cultural role?
MS: It’s important that we find balance especially in a developing market such as ours. We have to bring new audiences and whilst maintaining the needs of the established.
AT: This year’s Fair Focus is on East Africa. Does this point to a desire to grow the FNB Joburg Art Fair within the continent in the future?
MS: We very clear on our Agenda, we positioning the Fair as Pan African, we want as many Africans to support this platform every year, we hope the East African platforms will naturally be part of the Fair going forward whilst we bring in other parts of the continent to the fair.
More Information about the FNB Joburg Art Fair 2016 can be found here.