Year 24, and the year of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown which knocked the World, South Africa, and especially the arts and culture industry, sideways.
Artslink.co.za was no exception, but we’re still here! We used the downtime to transfer Artslink.co.za to the WordPress platform, a new look and, hopefully, even more user-friendly.
2018 and Artslink.co.za turns 21
Mind you, we have had the key to the door for quite a while with three Arts and Culture Trust arts media awards under our belt and has been nominated for the Business Day / BASA Awards. In 1997, the very early days of the Internet, TJ de Klerk founded Artslink.co.za with the aim of making it “the arts world in one website”. Too ambitious, hindsight shows. Today, Artslink.co.za does what it does best – we link artists and audiences in all genres, all over the country – well, as far as we can. We’re not funded, but after 21 years we’re still here, and our costs are a fraction of similar business models. For R425 (the average price of a double ticket), we can reach thousands of niche market readers – our website, our subscribers, and via Google News, Facebook and Twitter and our database of traditional and online media. Advertisers constantly ask us to quantify. If anyone has a viable model, we would be glad to adopt it. How do you quantify likes, shares, forwards …? Twenty-one years on the Internet is proof, plus many letters of thanks, but most of all the return clients, some very small, some big … for them, it’s obviously worth gambling the price of a double ticket to sell a lot more and reach a new audience. Artslink.co.za was one of the first V-ISPs (Virtual Internet Service Providers) of Internet Solutions, and we and our Internet clients are still with that platform. How stable can you get? If you have one of the original @artslink.co.za addresses, pop a bottle of bubbly with us. Happy New Year to you all. TJ and Jennifer de Klerk
1997 – 2017: January – Artslink.co.za celebrates 20th anniversary
In its 20 years on the Internet Artslink.co.za has never wavered from its vision – to serve the South African arts industry as a link between artists and audiences.
But if the company, which posts and distributes arts, culture and entertainment news, has not had to re-invent its basic game plan, it has certainly had to re-align constantly to keep up with rapidly changing technology.
When it launched in 1997, soon after Internet arrived in South Africa, the maximum internet speed was 56kbps (dial-up modem); Artslink.co.za now operates on up to 150Mbps (wireless LTE-Advanced), 2 678.57143 times faster.
Over the years, the strategy had to change from the initial dream of an all-inclusive website and database. Although this built up a substantial body of information it was impossible to maintain without funding which could not be obtained, so the database went offline.
Webmaster and founder TJ de Klerk then developed ACEmail, sending out Arts, Culture and Entertainment news via e-mail to subscribers who opted to receive it, choosing region and genre. A payment model failed to work, so it became a free service.
As bills had to be paid, De Klerk turned to the other side of the equation, charging publicists and artists a moderate fee to distribute their releases to Artslink.co.za’s, by now, considerable database of niche market subscribers and media.
It proved a winner. Today Artslink.co.za’s reach, via subscribers, RSS feeds, Google News, traditional and social media, is substantially in the thousands.
On the technical side Artslink.co.za has offered Internet services for the same 20 years. The company was one of the first Internet Solutions virtual ISPs (Internet Service Provider) and TJ de Klerk road-tested many of the products (back- and front-end) as they were developed.
In the 1990s attempts were made to provide original news and features with a band of arts writers. That wheel also started wobbling, but was re-aligned as ArtSpoken, posting articles by established and aspiring arts writers for free.
For some it was a valued outlet, for others the start to a career, or a chance to vent and initiate change. This service still runs today, linking to other arts websites and providing features and reviews of productions and events in Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.
In 2009, Jennifer de Klerk, a journalist and arts writer of more than 30 years standing, joined the team, bringing yet more alignment to the vision.
Technology, of course, re-invents all the time. Artslink.co.za was among the first to venture onto Facebook and Twitter. It now provides a social media service to supplement the traditional e-mail and website distribution.
In the 20 years, over 40 000 releases and news items have been distributed and archived – recently playwright Mike van Graan could retrieve copies of his biting Cultural Weapon articles, posted in the 1990s, in a matter of minutes.
As Artslink.co.za enters the next 20 years, the small home garden office in Yeoville is hung with framed award certificates from Business and Arts South Africa and the Arts and Culture Trust. They date back, because in recent years this compact and low-key company, which is still privately owned and independent, hasn’t seen the need to put their name forward.
You are either here, or you are not, and Artslink.co.za has been here for 20 years.
Sylvia Glasser, choreographer, 17 January 2017: On Artslink.co.za’s 20th anniversary I wanted to congratulate, and extend my thanks to TJ and Jennifer de Klerk for not only starting Artslink.co.za, but continuing this work with dedication over two decades. Artslink.co.za has played a vital role in the development of, and communication about the arts in South Africa…
Robert Crisp: cartoonist, May 2 2016: Hi TJ, I knew you were one of the early-bird service providers but never knew that you were almost the first. I don’t think there is a ISP on the planet that provides instant personal professional service as does Artslink.co.za.
Daphne Kuhn, Auto and General Theatre on the Square, May 2 2016: Well done TJ! You have made a huge difference to all in the arts industry by connecting us and allowing the industry to grow and be exposed.
Andre Le Roux, SAMRO, 14 January 2017: Congratulations TJ and Artslink.co.za. Many good memories my friend.
Les Cohn, ArtSource, 14 January 2017: Congrats – Artslink.co.za is an excellent service.
Caroline Smart, ArtSmart, 15 January 2017: Great news! I was at ACT’s first awards (1998) where Artslink.co.za got the electronic media award and D’ARTS got the print media award. Loooooong time ago. All strength to your arm.
Brooks Spector, Radio Today, 15 January 2017: Artslink.co.za has been a valuable, no, invaluable, service to all.
Colin Law, Afro Asia Limited: 15 January 2017: Congrats to the only decent news wire for the arts in South Africa.
Mbali Madonsela, freelance writer, October 5 2011: … I just want to thank you guys for opening doors for me that I never dreamt would be open. You guys rock. THANK YOU!!!!!!
2016: May – Artslink.co.za (re)launches as an ISP with IGNITE
2015: August – response to smartphones and mobile platforms
Artslink.co.za launches responsive website for all devices/platforms.
2011: Artslink.co.za is in your pocket
Artslink.co.za has gone mobi. Now, wherever you are, you can keep in touch with the arts world and plan your entertainment on your cellphone.
The http://artslink.mobi website is optimised for the cellphone, offering a far faster download time (even over GPRS).
You can access the information you want anytime and anywhere there is cellphone coverage. If you need a quick answer you don’t have find a computer or search for a WiFi hotspot; simply pull out your cellphone and start clicking.
You can see all the latest headlines, the last three reviews and do a quick search too. Other features are in the pipeline.
This is the fourth innovation the website has introduced this year to make it easy to keep informed about arts and entertainment happenings around the country.
First came the Artslink.co.za Diary. At a flick of a calendar and the touch of a button, you can see what’s on today, tomorrow, or any date you choose. You can search by province and category. – www.artslink.co.za (top right red block)
Then came the Coming Up. What shows are on the way? What do you need to plan for in the future? You don’t want to miss any great events coming to your area. – www.artlink.co.za/coming_up.htm
Then there was yet another refinement – the Now On. At a glance, you can see what’s happening on your beat in chronological order, with end dates, so you can be sure to catch the event in time. You can search this feature by province and category too. – www.artlink.co.za/now_on.htm
All these quick links to Artslink.co.za’s information are easily accessed from the website’s front page.
See www.artslink.co.za and now also http://artslink.mobi
2009 – 2010 : Artslink.co.za rockets ahead
Catch up with the future – the new-look Artslink.co.za is here at last, fast, modern and streamlined.
It’s a bright, vibrant website, capturing the energy and colour of South Africa’s arts scene, with picture slide shows, news, views and reviews – everything you need to keep informed.
It’s been quite a project transferring a database of more than 21 thousand news articles from old technology to new. Believe it or not, the very first item posted was “Abbamaniacs” on 13 December 1998. Artslink.co.za has come a long way since then.
All that information, spanning the last 14 years, is in the archive and can be searched and researched. There’s an archive search, a narrow-it-down current search and a new fast keyword search, so you should have no trouble finding what you want.
Take a look at all the new features, particularly the pictures. Click a picture and it will display full size. Several pictures can be posted per article and viewed as a slide show. Hover over the headlines on the front page and you’ll see all the images attached.
We are trying to make the distinctions clearer – press releases are carried under News, original writing (views and reviews) can be found under ArtSpoken & Reviews. Remember, if you have something to say, the Artslink.co.za platform is open to you.
ArtSpoken & Reviews, FilmWrap and the ArtWrap – a listing of arts events and happenings around the country – will be e-mailed to subscribers each week. If your event is not there; well, you haven’t sent it to us.
All press releases submitted to Artslink.co.za are posted on the website, distributed to the media and subscribers and sent on to Google News. It costs R300 to distribute a one-off press release. There are cost-effective six-month and annual options too. See the website for details.
The South African Arts and Cultural Calendar has also had a makeover. Fill in the details of your festival or annual event on the form under Calendar, submit and share. This is a free service.
You will note the new Sharing icons with each story. Now you can grab a story for Facebook or Twitter, or e-mail it to your friends. There are moderated forums with each story, so you can add your comments.
The banner advertising has also been revamped and at only R900 per month is a cost-effective way to promote your show or event.
The ArtFocus feature is available for festivals, big events or anything special that carries a lot of publicity. YouTube clips and giveaways can also be accommodated.
Artslink.co.za has a ticketing solution through Strictly Tickets. The company is also an Internet Service Provider (ISP) via Internet Solutions.
The fresh, vibrant new Artslink.co.za is there for you and we are striving to be as comprehensive as possible. Take a look at www.artslink.co.za and tell your friends and contacts.
Artslink.co.za is privately owned and independent.
Jennifer de Klerk (editor)
TJ de Klerk (webmaster)
082 554 9972 (c)
1997 – 2009 : More than a decade of Artslink.co.za
Twelve years ago a concept was born over a late-night pizza at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown – a vision of an all-encompassing website for the arts and entertainment industry that would link artists and audiences.
It was 1996, the Internet in South Africa was in its infancy; the dot com boom and doom still to come. There were no blueprints for a viable web-based business. But Artslink.co.za founder TJ de Klerk seized every opportunity, constantly trying out new ideas, until he found a formula that worked. Artslink.co.za survived, while a multitude of competitors, challengers and imitators appeared and, just as quickly, disappeared.
Today, Artslink.co.za is a quiet niche market success story, notching up thousands of hits a day from all over the world. Through its Artslink.co.za Account facility the site feeds arts and entertainment news and press releases daily via e-mail to journalists on newspapers, magazines, radio, television, Internet and freelance. Recently the 20 000th Artslink.co.za News item was posted on the site and archived, making the website a unique and invaluable information resource spanning the last 12 years.
Headlines, art and film “wraps” go out weekly. Most of the news on the site is generated by arts publicists, but a small group of contributors regularly post original columns and articles. Good writing is always welcomed and debate encouraged. An annual calendar of arts festivals and events is maintained.
In keeping with the vision of linking artists and audiences, members of the public can subscribe to receive Artslink.co.za News of their choice on e-mail, tailor-made for their region and interests. At present this is a free service.
Three times in the last 12 years Artslink.co.za has won Arts and Culture Trust awards for media in support of the arts; the site has been nominated for the Business Day / BASA Awards.
Artslink.co.za is also an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and, over the extensive infrastructure of The Internet Solution (IS), offers basic 56k dial-up, ISDN and ADSL connectivity, international roaming, POP3 e-mail, webmail, fax via e-mail, hosting and e-commerce.
Artslink.co.za is privately owned and independent.