And all that jazz

EXPERIENCED: PR lecturer Ayesha Toyer tells us why she can never get enough of Cape Town International Jazz Festival

For nine years Public Relations lecturer Ayesha Toyer has been getting industry experience at one of the most prominent music events in the country- The Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF). Here she explains why she has done it for so many years and what keeps her going….

How did your relationship with CTIJF come about?

I started with the CTIJF in 2007. I just graduated and started working at CPUT as a junior lecturer. Desperate for more industry experience I agreed to take a colleagues place as a Media Liaison working with the TV crews. I jumped at the opportunity and they were so impressed, they called me back the following year and the rest as they say, is history…

Of course the relationship now includes your students as well (this year 24 of them volunteered their assistance) Do you feel anxious that they have quite a big responsibility riding on their inexperienced shoulders?

Not at all. A rather rigorous process is followed before they are selected. They are chosen based on academic excellence, proven expertise in project management and practical experience. They are also considered based on their eagerness to learn and experience new things. More than anything, we select those who work hard and stand out among their peers. We then provide four separate training opportunities and they write a test to prepare them for the festival. They will not be accredited if they are not ready! I therefore have full confidence in their ability and simply sit back and watch them shine. One of the volunteers who worked with me at the festival for four years is now working full time, in the Media Department at the festival.

How do you stay sane between classes, exams and marking coupled with the demands associated with Jazz Fest?

An endless supply of sparkling water and a 1.5 litre flask of coffee which is my guilty pleasure. Also knowing that all of my favourite shows are waiting for me on PVR gives me consolation. Even my beloved little dog moved in with my best friend until after the festival because I am never home. Finally having the support of my department; my HOD, and colleagues definitely help.

What do you get from participating in this experience, apart from a frontline seat to one of the best shows on earth!

I never get to watch the show actually. In the 9 years I’ve worked at the festival, not once have I watched a performance. As a lecturer at a vocational university like CPUT, it is essential for any academic to have considerable industry experience. That knowledge is immeasurable in the classroom. It makes me a better lecturer and researcher because I understand the industry. It also provides my students with an opportunity to work at a world-class event in a meaningful way, in a way where they will actually acquire skills and learn something meaningful from the overall experience.

Will you be back for more next year? 

Yes, they can’t get rid of me…


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