South African Cultural Observatory National Conference
arts & culture
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University




2018 INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE | 7 & 8 of March 2018

‘Beyond the creative economy? Trends and Issues in National and Regional Economies’

The South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) invites all local and international academics; industry professionals and practitioners; public managers and intellectuals; researchers and consultants; private sector sponsors and practitioners; NGOs, organisations working in Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs), and organisers of cultural festivals & events to submit abstracts and proposals for consideration for the SACO’s 2018 International Conference on 7 and 8 March 2018, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

Proposals from relevant disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields that are relevant to the themes and subject matter outlined below will be considered. Proposals from practitioners, organisations and interested parties in all cultural domains – and particularly case studies – are welcome. 

  • Proposals for papers and presentations should take the form of an abstract of between 200-400 words.
  • Proposals for popular or academic panel discussions should be accompanied by a short rationale, abstract or motivation, under 500 words, and a short outline of the speaker/s’ experience in the field.

Prompt consideration will be given to all submissions and applicants will be notified within two weeks whether their submissions have been accepted.

‘Beyond the creative economy? Trends and Issues in National and Regional Economies’

While the nature and pace of the embeddedness of the creative economy varies considerably on an international scale, there is little doubt that the notion and impact of the creative economy have become distinctly more significant to policymakers.  While the creative economy continues to gain traction within national and regional economies, new sets of questions and challenges are emerging. Although countries and their peoples are increasingly connected to the global community and economy, social inequalities are deepening. In addition, prescriptions for the promotion of the creative classes may well lack the necessary element of social inclusiveness. And with changing public spending priorities and the increased recourse to neo-liberal options in regard to public funding of the arts, culture and heritage sectors and institutional support for the creative economy, effective policy-making becomes more challenging. Moreover, for many countries in the global ‘South’ the benefits of social media, cultural production, the expansion of profit-making around intellectual property, often seem to flow asymmetrically to the ‘North’ and other developed economies. As new scholarship shows, sustaining and directing the creative economy requires new, sustainable and citizen-oriented prescriptions, policies and interventions.  

The South African Cultural Observatory’s 2018 International Conference considers these and other important trends and debates. It will explore the roles and challenges facing the arts, culture and heritage (ACH) sectors and the creative and cultural industries (CCI), in contributing to social and economic development. It will also take cognizance of new trends and emerging debates regarding the dynamics, working and social effects of the creative economy on a national and international scale.  Policy issues and the nature and scope of cultural participation and cultural rights will be considered, as will be questions regarding the institutional and social embeddedness of creative economies. The impact of new technologies and the restructuring of popular culture in terms of production and consumption will be an important emphasis. 

In support of the major theme, papers, presentations and panel discussions are invited within the following broad thematic areas. These will be refined in line with abstracts and papers accepted:

Re-visioning the Creative Economy

  • The Future of Work in the Creative Economy
  • Creative Classes: New Directions
  • Cultural Occupations and Employment – Transformation and Job Creation in the CCIs
  • The Labour Process in the new Creative Economy
  • Innovation, Technology, Online Culture and Creativity: New Digital Pathways
  • International Trade in Cultural Goods & Services: Potential Economic Growth Drivers?
  • Whose Creativity?: Copyright and Ownership in the CCIs

Funding Arts, Culture and Heritage: Current Concerns and New Options

  • Public and private funding for Arts, Culture and Heritage in an Era of Low Economic Growth
  • Funding Partnerships for Sustainability
  • The Knowledge Economy and the Cultural Sector: Crowdsourcing, New Funding and Cultural Innovation
  • Funding Flows: The Role of Monitoring & Evaluation in Promoting & Evaluating the Impact and Effectiveness of Cultural Funding

Culture & the Creative Economy: Area Studies

  • BRICS: Partnerships, Collaboration and Comparative Studies
  • The CCIs and Africa
  • The Potential of the CCIs in Developing Countries & the Global South
  • Local Economic Development and the Cultural & Creative Industries
  • Creative Cities and Urban Development

Cultural Policy in the Age of Neo-Liberalism: Theories and Applications

  • Civic Engagement and Local Culture
  • Space, Place and the Role Of Arts & Culture
  • Soft Power: Real Cultural Diplomacy At Work
  • Regional Cultural Policy, Growth and Development
  • National Cultural Policy Debates: Economic, Cultural and Social Goals
  • Arts, Culture and Heritage Policy: Country and Case Studies

Popular Culture and the Creative Economy

  • Theorizing Contemporary Popular Culture
  • Class and Culture: New Departures?
  • Big Data’s Role in Understanding the CCIs
  • The Film, Television, Animation & On-Demand Sector: Africa Rising?
  • The Audio-Visual Sector: Online Distribution, Piracy and the Impact on Value Chains and Access to Cultural Goods and Services.
  • Going Social? Social Media, Advertising, Audience Development and the Creative Economy

Cultural Rights & Participation

  • Leveraging Heritage: New frontiers
  • Arts and Cultural Education
  • Cultural Rights
  • Audience, Education and Participation in Arts, Culture and Heritage
  • Social Cohesion – the Glue? Measuring Social Cohesion and the Link between the Arts, Culture and Heritage Sectors, National Identity and Wellbeing.

Charting the Creative Economy: Past, Present and Future

  • Growth and Development of Cultural Events and Festivals: Competition
  • Studies in the Contemporary History of Cultural Policy in South Africa/ Developing and Developed Countries

Deadline for abstract submissions: Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 5pm SAT.  All abstracts & motivations to be submitted online.

#SACOConf2018 | #SACO2018 | #BeyondCreativeEconomy

For more information contact the South African Cultural Observatory conference team on:


Tel:                        041 504 4930