South African Cultural Observatory
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

2017/18 Budget Vote Speech - Minister Nathi Mthethwa

SPEECH by Minister Nathi Mthethwa at the Arts and Culture 2017/18 Budget Vote, Parliament, Cape Town. "Today, we meet here on a day which has significance in our history as the 23rd May marks the 23 anniversary of admission of our country as the 53rd member state of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU), in Tunis, Tunisia. It was at this historic gathering that Former President Nelson Mandela made the following commitments to heads of state and government..."


Latest News

SA launches local leg of global creative business cup

A GLOBAL model for rewarding outstanding creative and design thinking has made its way to South Africa with the launch of the Creative Business Cup South Africa concept to the South African market.

ACT | UJ unlearns how to conference

#CreativeUprising, the 5th ACT | UJ Creative Conference will engage with South African Art Education in its current state and possible future.

International artists head to SA’s cultural mecca

FOR 11 days Grahamstown will become the cultural mecca of South Africa when the National Arts Festival draws artists, dancers and musicians from around the world to perform on its stages from 29 June to 9 July.

2017 Sophie Mgcina Emerging Voice Award Winner

RISING star actress and theatre director Lesedi Job was last night named the winner of the 4th annual Sophie Mgcina Emerging Voice Award.

Siopis, Brand & Messina at Stevenson Gallery

THE three exhibitions on offer have the effect of deconstructing and destabilising assumed paradigms. Penny Siopis achieves through the juxtaposition of painting and sculpture; Jody Brand through her subversive photographs and Mitchell Gilbert Messina accomplishes this through reflecting on the overproduction of internet video.

SACO Library gets generous Van Schaik, Bargain Books donations

THE South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) has been the recipient of two generous and vast donation from two leading South African book stores: Bargain Books and Van Schaik.

Note from the Culturalist - CEO

#SACOConf2017 - it's a wrap!

THE #SACOConf2017 was a real celebration of the current and future potential of the creative economy. Please enjoy this special edition newsletter which focuses on highlighting some of the speeches and insights offered - and which also covers the emerging trends, the critical debates and access to the presentations.


The 360: News from around the world

African art racks up $4m at Sotheby’s auction, but is it good for the continent?

IN celebration of #AfricaDay and #AfricaMonth we focus on some news emanating from the continent and its scholars.


Open Source: Latest research for download

NFVF study reveals SA film industry has a positive impact on the economy

THE National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) has released findings of their second Economic Impact Assessment study which reveals the industry’s economic contribution to the country’s GDP over a four-year period. The study, conducted by Urban Econ in the 2016/17 financial year, identifies and quantifies the economic impact of the film and television industry between January 2013 to March 2017.


Progress Report: Updates on CO achievements

SA Cultural Observatory launches national workshop series in East London

OFF the back of a wildly successful national conference in May, the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) kicks off a nationwide roadshow of eight domain workshops in East London in July.


More News
National Youth Wind Orchestra set to blow PE awayNational Youth Wind Orchestra set to blow PE away

THE National Youth Orchestra Winter Course will be held in Port Elizabeth in July, with performances at the National Arts Festival and the Savoy Theatre.

ERF 81 on the verge of a meltdownERF 81 on the verge of a meltdown

ERF 81 or the Tamboerskloof farm, an ex-military space and a site layered with historical narrative, is threatened by gentrification. When Andre Laubscher moved in together with his family in 1995, the land was turned into a farm and in the process a vibrant, creative community began to form where artists, musicians and writers set to work. Moreover, it became a haven for abandoned children, a place for vegetable growing and markets as well as a conservatory for endangered animals. However, recently the residents have been served eviction notices and Erf 81 is on the verge of a meltdown.

National Arts Festival just around the cornerNational Arts Festival just around the corner

FOR 11 days, Grahamstown will become the cultural center of South Africa when the National Arts Festival draws artists, dancers and musicians from around the world to perform on its stages from 29 June to 9 July. Grahamstown is located in the Eastern Cape, 130km from Port Elizabeth. The National Arts Festival is one of the most important events on the South African cultural calendar, and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent.

Open Source: UNESCO adopts guidelines to protect artists and diversify cultural content on the internetOpen Source: UNESCO adopts guidelines to protect artists and diversify cultural content on the internet

UNESCO adopted guidelines to protect artists and diversify cultural content on the internet last week (June 2017). The guidelines address the need to ensure an inclusive offer of content to the public that will not discriminate against cultural goods on the basis of provenance, language or social factors.

Concerts SA - Online Live Music ToolkitConcerts SA - Online Live Music Toolkit

SOUTH African music promoters and musicians can now access ConcertsSA's handy online toolkit to help them with funding applications, marketing, concert production and other essential skills to help them get ahead in the industry.

Upcoming Events

Platteland Preview Arts Festival

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