WHEN we meet, Michelle Constant is in a black dress with white stripes, black takkies and wearing her trademark dark glasses. Very arty!

WHEN we meet, Michelle Constant is in a black dress with white stripes, black takkies and wearing her trademark dark glasses. Very arty!

The life of this former top radio personality now revolves around arts funding and administration.

She was a radio presenter for quite some time - at 5FM, SAfm eventually ending up at Radio 2000 and back to SAfm.

She is presently the chief executive officer of the influential arts funding body, Business and Arts South Africa, a non-profit organisation that markets the arts to the corporate sector.

Its main thrust as an organisation is that "it's good business to do business in the arts" by partnering arts projects, not as an act of charity but as a marketing tool, accessing and accruing opportunities in the art world.

Michelle is hardly a year in this hot position, having taken over from the larger-than-life arts administrator Nicola Danby, who retired about a year ago.

Now at the helm of this organisation, and asserting her unique style on it, Michelle is determined to make the organisation better known to the corporate sector.

First, she spent the past 10 months or so reorganising the outfit.

"I had to restructure the organisation. We now have a marketing director and an internship programme as well," she says.

And, quite unusually, the organisation has also been rebranded in the past two weeks, with the logo changing completely.

The flagship 12th annual Business Day Basa Awards, which seeks to encourage companies to fund the arts by awarding them prestigious prizes for their efforts in making a success of various projects, will take place in Johannesburg next week.

Nominees include big and small companies.

"In terms of the rebranding exercise, we wanted to make stakeholders aware of what Business and Arts South Africa is all about, because quite significantly, a lot of people were not aware of our core business - both the corporates and the artists themselves," says Michelle.

"Coming to the awards, the competition has been very tough, but we have encouragingly seen a lot of creativity, for example small companies coming on board funding smaller projects in a creative way.

"We acknowledge that arts funding has been affected by the recession, particularly when ongoing funding had to stop, with big companies informing project managers that there was less budget for continuing funding, but the positive attitude of companies towards arts funding has not changed."

As I left the organisation's offices in Newtown, I had the distinct impression that there is definitely a new injection of energy, a different way of doing business and a new attitude and determination to make a success of this organisation.

The nominees list for this year spans the broad spectrum of the arts - from visual arts projects, like the Joburg Art Fair and the Shangaan-themed Dungamanzi Stirring Water project, to theatre, music and social awareness initiatives such as Absa's Addicted To Life drugs awareness campaign.

The Business Day Basa Awards, supported by Anglo American, will take place at the Forum, Turbine Hall, Newtown, on Monday.

With Michelle at the helm, it's bound to prosper.