South African Cultural Observatory
National Conference 2017 Registration is Open

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University of Fort Hare

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Department of Arts and Culture

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Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

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Rhodes University

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South African Cultural Observatory

The South African Cultural Observatory is the national public research entity of the Department of Arts & Culture. Cultural domains such as arts, tourism, heritage, libraries and museums will be researched on in order to build intellectual capacity across these sectors.

The key functions of the South African Cultural Observatory include the following:

  • Policy focused research (surveys, case studies)
  • Reviews of current programmes
  • M&E – impact of government spending
  • Collection of statistics (databases)
  • Physical and Online access
  • Networking, sharing, partnerships

Word from DAC

A new leaf, a new White Paper

OPENING Keynote address by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa at the 2nd Sector Indaba on the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage, Johannesburg, 17 November 2016. "It was almost a year ago on the 24 November 2015 that we gathered together as the Arts, Culture and Heritage Sector in a meeting of minds on the future of the arts. And I pledged to all present that once we had completed our consultative work led by the eminent Reference Panel, we would return and reconvene the sector to engage this important work. We have remained true to this pledge and today we return for this important second consultative Indaba."


Latest News

African insights to feature strongly at creative economy conference

THE African experience of growing, maintaining and developing a strong cultural and creative economy will be a main focal point at the South African Cultural Observatory’s (SACO) conference this May.

Bold changes ahead for ACT

THE Arts & Culture Trust’s next five-year strategy will see the organisation making bold changes.

Call For South African Art Collective - Art Santa Fe 2017

THE Small Enterprise Development Agency of KZN will coordinate and host the participation of micro, emerging and established enterprises as well as individual upcoming visual artists during the Art Santa Fe show which will take place from the 13-16th July 2017 at the Santa Fe Convention Centre in USA.

19th ASSITEJ World Congress & International Theatre Festival for Children and Young People

THE Cradle of Creativity (16-27 May) comprises a Festival, a Conference and a World Congress, all dedicated to theatre for young audiences.

2017 BASA Awards Open for entries

THE annual BASA Awards, jointly sponsored by Hollard & Business Day, is the only awards ceremony that acknowledges business support of and partnerships in the arts in South Africa.

SA Cultural Observatory secures Masasa Mbangeni as National Conference MC

THE ethereal and spunky award-winning actress, Masasa Mbangeni, is the face of the South African Cultural Observatory’s (SACO) May National Conference, which she will host as master of ceremonies (MC).

Note from the Culturalist - CEO

Conference to capture creative economy trends

IT’S ALL systems go for the second South African Cultural Observatory National Conference on May 24 and 25 in Johannesburg. We are very excited to present a dynamic and varied programme – featuring a wide range of global, African and local speakers and perspectives; especially since it’s Africa Day on May 25.


The 360: News from around the world

Beyoncé launches scholarship to support young women in the arts

BEYONCE has unveiled her ‘Formation Scholars’, a new scholarship announced on the one-year anniversary of Lemonade to support young woman in the arts.


Open Source: Latest research for download

Towards tackling inequalities in South Africa: the role of community libraries

A paper recently published by Nampombe Mnkeni-Saurombe from the University of South Africa and Nomusa Zimu from the Human Sciences Research Council on the role of community libraries reports on the Department of Arts and Culture’s conditional grant community library project progress.


Progress Report: Updates on CO achievements

Top line-up of South African speakers for SA Cultural Observatory Conference

THE SOUTH African Cultural Observatory has secured a stellar local line-up of academics, researchers and creative practitioners for its National Conference at the Turbine Hall in Johannesburg on May 24 and 25.


More News
Three Jozi boys to star in PriscillaThree Jozi boys to star in Priscilla

SHOWTIME Management, SA producers of the international hit musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert announced the three Johannesburg boys who join the all South African cast alternating the role of Benji when the show opens at The Teatro, Montecasino on 29 April.

Treat yourself to the best of European cinemaTreat yourself to the best of European cinema

THE European Film Festival is back for the fourth time at Cinema Nouveau theatres in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban from 5 to 14 May. Acknowledged by the Rotterdam International Film Festival, this movie is a road trip with a modification, at once thoughtful, hilarious and wild. The line-up of films represents 12 countries, including Ireland and Croatia for the first time. Each film reflects the skills and take on the world of filmmakers who are not limited by national borders.

JMS concert welcomes Wits trio on stageJMS concert welcomes Wits trio on stage

THE Wits Trio, will perform in the Linder Auditorium on Saturday 22 April for the Johannesburg Musical Society. Pianist Malcolm Nay and violinist Zanta Hofmeyr will be joined by cellist Maciej Lacny to play a programme of established works from the classic repertoire, as well as a contemporary composition dedicated especially to them.

Review: Don't Look Back ExhibitionReview: Don't Look Back Exhibition

A CELEBRATION of the magic of sculptural form within a gallery context, sculpture, results in a captivating first room and bodes well as one journey’s further into the gallery space. For one is met with a variety of perceptual and conceptual bits of information through the very presence of these objects qua sculpture that challenge and proceed (as if there is a logic) to evoke a reaction.

Review: Once we were leaders exhibition Review: Once we were leaders exhibition

HAVING recently exhibited this body of work at VOLTA, New York, Ryan Hewett’s unmistakable style combines strong formal rigour as well as expressionistic looseness. In a sense this means his series of portraits, generally leaders in the world of South African politics over the last one hundred years, contain both an element of obvious references to icons, while maintaining a richness of surface as swathes of thick impasto – rich, organic, congealed paint – have an almost organic appeal.

Upcoming Events

SACO2017 - South African Cultural Observatory 2nd National Conference

Date:24 May 2017 - 25 May 2017
Venue:The Forum Turbine Hall
Where:Port Elizabeth

Platteland Preview Arts Festival

Date:30 Jun 2017 - 02 Jul 2017
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arts & cultureNNMUUniversity of Fort HareRhodes University