The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) is committed to optimising the creative industries’ impact on social and economic growth and has implemented many programmes since the advent of democracy that try to do so. Creative Feel reviews some of the DAC’s latest programmes, all of which provide vital growth opportunities for the creative economy.
Since 2015, the DAC has hosted an Africa Month Programme during May in the form of a ‘Festival of Ideas’ to commemorate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in May 1963, now called the African Union (AU). This provides South Africa and the rest of the continent with an opportunity to reflect and affirm who we are as Africans, promote Pan-Africanism, while also supporting African Union programmes as spelled out in the AU Charter for African Cultural Renaissance and the AU Agenda 2063.
The DAC’s Africa Month Programme further creates a conducive environment for people-to-people contact while fostering regional integration, creating markets for South African cultural goods and services and also celebrating our African cultural heritage through colloquia, exhibitions and performances with participants from across Africa and its Diaspora.
This year’s commemoration takes on a special significance as South Africa also celebrates 25 years of freedom and democracy, a milestone achieved through the unwavering commitment of African countries and the anti-apartheid movement throughout the globe who supported our liberation movement, and whose combined efforts contributed to bringing about the attainment of a non-racial and non-sexist democracy in South Africa.
To chart the socio-economic impact of the arts, culture and heritage (ACH) sectors and the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) in South Africa, the DAC initiated the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) in 2014. SACO is a statistical and socio-economic research project that uses a range of innovative statistical methodologies, audits and research tools to understand our creative economy. This Observatory is run by a team of academics and experts housed at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and with support from other institutions and research hubs in the region and around the country.
The work of the South African Cultural Observatory is gaining momentum and it is fast developing into a ‘nerve centre’ that develops, collects and analyses cultural data across the sector. In addition to reaching a wide audience through a number of platforms and channels, including through workshops and conferences, SACO has created the South African Festivals Economic Impact Calculator (SAFEIC); conducted a mapping study in 2017/18; and has produced nine Key Performance Indicator (KPI) reports on projects supported by the Department of Arts and Culture, namely Festivals and Events; Provincial Events; Touring Ventures; Public Art; Miscellaneous Funding; the Cape Town Carnival; and mapping the spatial distribution of Mzansi Golden Economy funding.
The mapping study was groundbreaking in that it showed the true value of the CCIs, providing vital research that was not previously available and which can be used going forward to grow and properly realise the potential of the industries. The study, which was compiled by Professor Jen Snowball, SACO chief research strategist and economics lecturer at Rhodes University, and Serge Hadisi, an independent economist affiliated to Rhodes University, found that in 2016 the gross domestic product (GDP) contribution of CCIs was estimated at R63.385 billion – around 1.7% of the total GDP. This percentage increases nominally to 5.7% (R233 billion) if the multiplier effect is factored in. In 2015, cultural occupations made up 2.52% of jobs in South Africa – in both cultural and non-cultural industries. Including non-cultural support occupations, the figure increases to 6.72% of all jobs in South Africa.
With regard to transformation, the study showed that ‘80% of cultural workers are black Africans, Coloured, and Indian or Asian while White workers are still over-represented in some areas of the sector. This is especially the case in specific domains in which tertiary education is required,’ says Hadisi. The lack of access to tertiary education could potentially hinder faster transformation in the CCIs. Snowball adds that ‘More than half of all cultural occupations are held by men (57%). Young women (under 35) are particularly underrepresented in the cultural sector: 34% of cultural workers are young women, compared to 42% of male cultural workers.’
Off the back of the SACO data released, Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, highlighted the potential of the CCIs to generate creative capital and create jobs in his keynote address at SACO’s 2018 international conference held in Nelson Mandela Bay.
‘CCIs around the globe are rapidly attracting attention as drivers of economic growth, innovation, and job creation. The World Economic Forum’s 2017 report on The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa listed the creative industries as one of the “trending” professions, which had an average growth rate of 7% between 2011 and 2016.
‘Similar growth in South Africa at this level would support the National Development Plan’s aim to create 11 million new jobs by 2030,’ says Mthethwa.
South African youth are integral to the growth of the ACH sectors and CCIs, and the DAC has thus set up two important programmes to provide them with the support they need, namely the Emerging Creatives Programme at Design Indaba, and the Debut Fund Programme and Debut Fund Programme Awards.
The Emerging Creatives Programme is a developmental platform for young creatives who have had relatively little industry exposure. Design Indaba and the DAC established the Emerging Creatives Programme because of a strong belief in nurturing this new creative talent and knocking down the barriers to entry for those getting started.
The Emerging Creatives Programme provides support, education and mentoring for South Africa’s future designers and is open to architects, fashion designers, illustrators, furniture designers and jewellers. The programme provides the opportunity for these young creators to be inspired by the best designers in the world, and the selected participants are able to meet leaders in the local and international design industry. Their work is showcased to retail buyers and media nationally and internationally, and through the programme, they receive guidance on how to manage and grow small businesses.
Each year, 50 participants are chosen, and the programme has helped launch the careers of celebrated and vibrant young designers such as Laduma Ngxokolo, Katherine-Mary Pichulik, Daniel Ting Chong and Andile Dyalvane.
The DAC Debut Fund Programme is a partnership between the DAC and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) – and also takes into cognisance groundwork done by BASA – supported by the National Lotteries Council (NLC). This initiative provides knowledge and skills development to emerging artists on the cusp of ‘making it’, supports them with launching or implementing their first album, film, book, etc., and allows them opportunities to pitch for further funding to support their venture. The fund provides opportunities to develop new local content for that all-important ‘break’ in their career.
Since the launch, the Debut Programme, implemented by BASA, has fulfilled its vision of supporting emerging artists in all of South Africa’s nine provinces, equipping these practitioners with knowledge, skills development and funding to enable them to move from the amateur to the professional realm.
The inaugural Debut Fund Programme Awards Ceremony took place in February this year. This saw the announcement of one grant recipient from each province. The nine winners were Wrestling Arts Dawn (Western Cape), Ilaphi Creation (Gauteng), Cinga Entertainment & Events (Pty) Ltd (Eastern Cape), Optix Legacy (Limpopo), Rehilwe Mooketsi Organisation (North West), Alpha Omega Holdings (KwaZulu-Natal), Dopeshots (Free State), Exodus3 Productions (Mpumalanga) and Mtabani Africanqueen Arts Production (Northern Cape). Each recipient will receive financial support through a grant as well as mentoring by an industry professional while implementing and reporting on their venture.
Recipients of Special Awards were also announced at the Debut Fund Programme Awards Ceremony. These five outstanding practitioners were awarded grants to implement and report on their venture: Vuyo Mayesa (Commitment Award), Clementina Motsi (Growth Award), Bambanani Fresh Art (Design Thinking Award), PRINCO Arts and Culture Projects (Social Development Award), and Ilaphi Creation Art (Collaboration Award).
These recent initiatives form part of the DAC’s Mzansi Golden Economy strategy, which was launched in 2012 to ensure economic growth and prosperity in the ACH sectors. The purpose of this framework is to make strategic investments to optimise the economic benefit of the arts in South Africa. By improving investment in key areas of the creative economy, it aims to enhance job creation and productivity while also increasing the sector’s global competitiveness.
The programme focuses on funding the sector in strategic areas and will continue to intensify the realisation of the departmental objectives of job creation, content development and human capital development.
Some of the most recent initiatives are the Art Bank of South Africa (ArtbankSA) and the Publishing Hub.
Launched in December 2017, ArtbankSA is a national programme and is hosted by the National Museum Bloemfontein, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture. The launch exhibition, which was titled Emerging Visions: Telling the South African Story, featured an impressive 52 artworks by 32 artists from seven provinces.
In March 2019, the second exhibition of ArtbankSA was held at the Durban Art Gallery titled Tswela Pele: New Acquisitions of the Art Bank of South Africa. Following the work done in Bloemfontein and Durban, the ArtbankSA programme team is also engaging with artists in Mpumalanga and Limpopo and creating awareness of the programme.
ArtbankSA was established to promote, foster and stimulate a vibrant market for the collection of South African contemporary visual art. ArtbankSA will do this by procuring and curating South African artworks and leasing these artworks to government departments, its institutions and South African embassies around the world for a minimum of two years.
ArtbankSA also becomes key in telling the South African story through the generation of compelling representations and propositions related to our understanding of who we are in a complex and rapidly changing world. This initiative is also based on the understanding that the capacity of the work of artists to challenge our familiar and established patterns of perceptions and attitude, and to invoke both wonder and critical reflection, is fundamental to understanding the importance of the visual arts in a society composed of multiple identities, realities and ways of being in the world.
The Publishing Hub will play a critical role in promoting a culture of writing, reading, research and in literary development. Books and literary production are important in promoting a South African identity, nation building and social cohesion, and are foundational in telling the South African story. The launch of the Publishing Hub is part of a wider campaign to encourage and inculcate a culture of reading in South Africa and this initiative is one of the milestones in a campaign that seeks to turn South Africa into a nation of readers not only at school level but for leisure. The development of a culture of reading also assists in raising consciousness, inculcating critical thinking and instilling national values and culture.
While much remains to be done, these programmes, initiatives and strategies are laying the foundation for the sustained and continued growth of the creative industries in South Africa.
To read more about Africa Month, 25 years of freedom, and empowering the creative economy, purchase the May 2019 issue of Creative Feel or to continue supporting our role in the South African arts and culture sector, subscribe to our monthly magazine from only R180.00 per year. SUBSCRIBE HERE!