South African Cultural Observatory

About Us

Initiated by the Department of Arts and Culture, through the Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy (2011), the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) is a statistical and socio-economic research project, launched in 2014, which charts the socio-economic impact of the arts, culture and heritage (ACH) sectors and the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) in South Africa.

We use a range of innovative statistical methodologies, audits and research tools to understand our creative economy. Our main purpose is the development of a comprehensive cultural information system which continuously captures cultural data and monitors and evaluates government initiatives in the ACH sectors and CCIs. The SACO is headquartered in Nelson Mandela Bay – hosted by Nelson Mandela University on behalf of the Department of Arts and Culture, in partnership with Rhodes University and the University of Fort Hare – but operates nationally analysing the CCIs and ACH sectors.

The SA Cultural Observatory supports the collection and analysis of data, influences policy, shares insights and builds on the intellectual capacity gained across the arts, culture and heritage sectors. We work across the breadth of all cultural domains, including the arts, heritage, tourism, museums, libraries, archives and creative industries.

The key functions of the South African Cultural Observatory include:

  • Advanced theoretical and policy-relevant research on cultural trends and the cultural economy
  • The conceptualization and collection of statistics (data-bases)
  • Monitoring and Evaluating the impact of  cultural events
  • Providing physical and online access to the cultural information
  • Capacity building within the Arts, Culture and Heritage sectors and Creative Industries
  • Networking, partnering and knowledge sharing
  • Promoting cultural diplomacy

The Cultural Observatory is a long-awaited and vital initiative in the country’s cultural landscape. The evidence and data collected and analysed assists in assessing where the competitiveness, job-creating and income-generating potential of the creative industries lies. The work of the Cultural Observatory adds value to the arts and culture sectors and enables a real socio-economic value to be attached to activities central to the rich tapestry of South African life.

More News
Special Award recipients at 20th BASA Awards Special Award recipients at 20th BASA Awards

HUMAN rights activist Justice Albie Sachs, the Swiss cultural centre Pro Helvetia, and law firm Webber Wentzel have been honoured with BASA Special Awards.

SAFEIC Calculator Video Tutorial Now Available SAFEIC Calculator Video Tutorial Now Available

The South African Cultural Observatory is excited to announce the release of a training video on the use of the SAFEIC Calculator. The South African Festivals Economic Impact Calculator (SAFEIC) is a free online tool developed by the South African Cultural Observatory specifically for cultural festival and event organisers so they can track the economic impact of their events. The SAFEIC is designed to be used to estimate the economic impact of a festival on a host economy. It has been carefully, and conservatively, designed so as to produce results that are as reliable and valid as possible for a wide range of events – provided the data that is inputted is as accurate as possible.

Three Solo shows: Turiya Magadlela, Bronwyn Katz and Herman Mbamba At Blank Projects Three Solo shows: Turiya Magadlela, Bronwyn Katz and Herman Mbamba At Blank Projects

RELOCATED to larger premises in Woodstock, Blank Projects is a wonderful space for art. In this premier show, three artists present distinct methods and processes that may be understood in various ways. Magadlela’s “Wabana lapho isifebe, wangena kuso” employs pantyhose on canvas to great effect; Katz uses bed wiring and Mbamba uses acrylics within the context of torn pages from Norwegian fashion magazines.

19 Days in September: Steve Biko Exhibition 19 Days in September: Steve Biko Exhibition

AN exhibition marking the 40th anniversary of the death and immediate aftermath of the murder of Steve Biko by security police in South Africa in September 1977, opened in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, on Tuesday 12 September at noon.

Youth Expression Festival 2018 call out Youth Expression Festival 2018 call out

THE South African State Theatre’s Education, Youth and Children Theatre (EYCT) Department will be celebrating the 10th Youth Expressions Festival in 2018. In celebrating a decade of staging young people’s professional work, and commemorating the struggles fought by the youth of 1976, professional young art practitioners are invited to propose their work of art to be part of the festival, which will be divided into the Main and Fringe programs.

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