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Futures & Beyond – Where creativity & 4IR meet

UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA), in partnership with Andani.Africa, a creative industries research and insights company, proudly launches the inaugural Futures & Beyond Forum planned for 16 and 17 March 2021.

The first of its kind in Africa, the Forum is a gathering of leading minds in the arts and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The Forum aims to start a conversation on the role of the creative industries in the continent’s future and the development of Africa-led strategies for creativity and innovation in technology.
     The Fourth Industrial Revolution has become a buzz phrase in South Africa, underscored by the release of Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution report on South Africa’s readiness in 2020. Much of the 4IR debate focuses on new technologies and the need for more skills and investment in science and technology. However, the creative and cultural industries have a critical role in harnessing the enormous power of creativity, named by the World Economic Forum as one of the top five skills needed for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
     Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, vice-chancellor (VC) and principal of the University of Johannesburg, and chairperson of the Presidential Commission for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in South Africa, will set the scene with an opening address on 16 March.

     UJ Arts & Culture and Andani.Africa, share the belief that the understanding of how the creative industries will be impacted by inevitable technological changes and to map the potential for the arts within these changes are of great importance. The Covid-19 pandemic has fast tracked many of these changes, with the creative sector heavily impacted by efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.
     The creative industries have had to innovate, moving to online formats and seeking alternative revenue strategies through digital platforms. Rather than cancelling most of its activities, the National Arts Festival took the brave step of going entirely online in 2020. So did the Vrystaat Kunstefees and many producers just like UJ Arts & Culture.
     ‘In the advent of a connected Africa, thanks to the ratified continental free trade agreement, it is imperative that the creative industries explore and exploit convergence of technology and innovation – or 4IR – that can enhance, empower and enable our creative industries to thrive,’ says Emmanuel Gamor, one of the confirmed speakers. Ghana-based Emmanuel is joined by Wilhelmina Nekoto (Kenya), Monica Newton (South Africa) and Neema Iyer (Uganda) to name a few. A more detailed programme will be announced in the coming weeks.
     The UJ Futures & Beyond Forum will begin a dialogue on the ways in which the creative sector can better prepare itself and develop the skills needed to respond to the coming changes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Part of this will be carving out the value and contribution that the arts can bring to future technology through authentic African arts, culture, creativity, and innovation.
     UJ Futures & Beyond Forum is a free online forum live from the UJ Arts Centre on 16 and 17 March 2021. Registration is now open on www.arts.uj.ac.za.

For more information, please contact Lakin Morgan-Baatjies lakinmb@uj.ac.za. Alternatively, follow UJ Arts & Culture and Andani.Africa on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information and regular updates.

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