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SACO Domain Workshops a Complete Success

The first of several South African Cultural Observatory or SACO domain workshops kicked off on August 18.

About 40 representatives of the Mpumalanga arts, culture and heritage community joined in tackling matters of mutual interest at the SACO domain workshops.

On the discussion table, among other topics, was the challenges faced by the sectors and individual artists, how the South African Cultural Observatory can support with research that informs organisations and practitioners, the appropriateness of the SACO’s Research Agenda, and areas for collaboration.

The first of eight domain workshops nationwide in Mpumalanga was a success, the SACO said.

“This was a great way to kick off what is essentially a national roadshow to both introduce the SACO domain workshops and hold robust discussions with arts, culture and heritage organisations and cultural and creative industry practitioners,” said Prof Jen Snowball, SACO’s Chief Researcher and Rhodes University economics lecturer.

The day-long workshop started with a presentation by the national Department of Arts and Culture and was followed by one by CCIFSA (Cultural and Creative Industries Federations of South Africa).

“We feel there is now alignment between the people of Mpumalanga and SACO. There is a lot we can learn from one another, and this workshop has helped us better understand what the SACO is, what it is mandated to do and how the creative and cultural industries across the province can work with the organisation.” – Zwelithini Mdakane, CCIFSA Deputy Secretary General.

SACO team members presented an overview of the Observatory followed by a discussion on the Research Agenda and which research should be prioritised on the agenda. The group then went through the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and presentations on select SACO research projects.

Attendee Mandla Ndlovu, who has a film company of the same name, said he was impressed with the scope covered by the SACO and was particularly interested in what opportunities there were to work together and improve the available research for young filmmakers.

The workshop series will culminate in a final National Conference in January 2017, where the revised Research Agenda – which will have been adjusted based on the stakeholder feedback garnered from the workshops – among other pressing matters emerging from the sector and broad industry.

Focused on mapping the impact of the South African creative and cultural industries, the Observatory is a new national research institute, hosted by Nelson Mandela University on behalf of the Department of Arts and Culture, with partnership support from the University of Fort Hare and Rhodes University.

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