Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton once said that ‘women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world’. This, of course, is no understatement considering how women in all fields and spheres of politics and economics have shaped the world and contributed to our betterment, growth and overall wellbeing. This Women’s Month provided the National Arts Council (NAC) with an opportunity to reflect and take stock of their progress in terms of gender empowerment.
As a national government agency that promotes and contributes to socioeconomic development and empowerment, the NAC is at the forefront of tapping into the reservoir of excellence offered by South African women, in particular, those serving the organisation in leading roles. Five individuals who are worth mentioning as shining examples of leading women in the public service are NAC Deputy Chairperson Jabu Dlamini, Chairperson of the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) Avril Joffe, Chairperson of the Human Resources Committee (HRC) Erica Elk, CEO Rosemary Mangope and Arts Development Manager (ADM) Julie Diphofa.
With qualifications in the humanities, education and project management, and having worked for the Department of Education for a number of years, Dlamini brings a passion for education, social development and creativity to the NAC Council, which she was appointed to in 2016. Given her vast experience and knowledge, there is no doubt that Dlamini’s influence on the NAC will be felt for years to come.
Dlamini is the current culture sector champion in Mpumalanga under the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP). She holds five champion Kamoso Awards, having been recognised for implementing the best innovative projects in the culture and social sector. Her work impacts positively on job creation, poverty reduction and economic empowerment. Projects implemented by Dlamini enhance social cohesion while reducing unemployment. They speak to the country’s priorities to build communities with sustainable livelihoods through the creative industries.
Joffe is currently the head of department: Cultural Policy and Management at the University of Witwatersrand. The programme delivers research and coursework degree programmes in cultural policy and leadership, cultural entrepreneurship, creativity, culture and the economy, strategic planning in the arts, fundraising, marketing and audience development, among others. The programme also partners with arts-based organisations to do research relevant to the sector, such as SAMRO & Concerts SA, the Goethe-Institut, the NAC and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA).
Joffe holds a BA in Economics and a BA Honours in Industrial Sociology, both obtained from the University of Witwatersrand, as well as an MPhil in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, England.
Between 1998 and 2015, she was the director of Creativityavriljoffe (CAJ), which concentrated on policy, research, education and training on cultural policy, human resource strategies, creative industries, entrepreneurship and management. The core focus of the programme involved developing creative solutions to value chain blockages, urban development, and local and regional economic development with a particular focus on the cultural economy, including the cultural and creative industries.
In 2015, Joffe was appointed by the Minister of Arts and Culture to a nine-person panel to review the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage, which involved conducting public consultations around the country to draft a new cultural policy for the country.
Elk’s journey to becoming a NAC Council member is fascinating by all accounts. A former studio assistant to world-renowned artist William Kentridge, Elk is a combination of visual arts practitioner, creative industries development implementer and strategist. Her experience includes working as a media officer for the National Land Committee and being part of the master planning team for the Cradle of Humankind. In addition to her role as a NAC HRC chairperson, she served on the board of Cape Town Design, the city’s World Design Capital 2014 implementation company; and is the executive director of the Craft and Design Institute.
Mangope’s blend of creative skills and business acumen tie in with her responsibilities as the CEO for the NAC. She holds a master’s degree in Social Sciences where her thesis focused on gender issues. Her professional career began at the North-West Province as a community development worker, and then founding executive director for the Mmabana Cultural Foundation in Mafikeng, North-West Province, a position she held for 15 years. During that time, she established five cultural centres in the province. The objective of these cultural centres was to provide facilities and platforms for stimulating imagination, creative thinking and innovation.
She later joined the Department of Arts and Culture as the chief director – Arts, Social Development and Youth (ASDY), and was responsible for creating and providing strategic direction for the ASDY Unit. Projects were implemented to increase awareness of the role arts and culture plays in addressing a variety of social challenges, leading to social development; furthermore, to lead strategic interventions focusing on social cohesion and social justice, moral regeneration and gender, with women, youth, children and people with disabilities being the main target groups. Emphasis was placed on the expansion of cultural industries as sources of sustainable income generation.
Prior to joining the NAC, Mangope was the divisional executive: Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs at the Development Bank of Southern Africa. She has transformed the NAC both in being technologically savvy, by introducing online applications for funding, and staying relevant to the forever changing sector by realigning to fund for impact by introducing the five new funding programmes.
An avid reader and sports enthusiast, Diphofa currently performs one of the toughest roles at the NAC, that of an ADM, or, to put it simply, the person responsible for coordinating the NAC’s grant-making function and implementing strategies related to that function. With 14 years’ experience at a senior management level, it’s no surprise that Diphofa has previously served as acting chief executive of the NAC. She lists her major accomplishments at the NAC as negotiating for the continuation of the South African-Norwegian music programme, and leading the successful bid of the 2009 IFACCA World Summit on Arts and Culture.
‘It is of critical importance to recognise the vast pool of talent we are currently blessed with at the NAC, especially those women in decision-making roles who are leading the organisation to greater heights. It gives me great confidence and instils immense pride in me to be working with such quality individuals,’ says Mangope.
To keep up-to-date with the latest arts and culture news in South Africa, purchase the August 2019 issue of Creative Feel or subscribe to our monthly magazine from only R180.00 to R365.00 per year! SUBSCRIBE HERE!