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 institute, 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
SA Cultural Observatory brings workshop series to PietermaritzburgSA Cultural Observatory brings workshop series to Pietermaritzburg

IN THE second instalment of what is an eight-stop national roadshow, the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) heads to Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal to share insights into the organisation, its research and tools.

Mzansi's Golden Economy a rare commodity, Bra Ray Phiri, continues to live among usMzansi's Golden Economy a rare commodity, Bra Ray Phiri, continues to live among us

WHEN a colossal like Bra Ray Phiri passes on, a part of you does go because he has been part of our lives as long as we can remember. Growing up in the townships the music of Ray Chikapa Phiri gave us hope and inspired us that a better tomorrow is possible.

DAC Debut Programme in partnership with BASADAC Debut Programme in partnership with BASA

ARE you an emerging arts and culture organisation or individual who is active in the community, with a project/venture? Do you think your project/venture has the potential to grow? Are you between the ages of 18-35? Are you based in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng or the Free State?

The other side of SA fashion The other side of SA fashion

INTERROGATING the world of South African fashion, photographer Johnny Lai Sang has produced images of rare complexity. On the one hand, full of the glitter and glamour of this world and yet on the other hand, a murky, darker, shadow-side emerges. This is captured through an understanding of his craft where contrasts of colour, intensity of light, the ability to focus and yet not focus the lens and an eye for alternative perspectives and vantage points contribute to an interesting show, one well worth a visit.

DAC Minister launches Debut Fund Programme for young artistsDAC Minister launches Debut Fund Programme for young artists

ARTS and Culture Minister, Mr. Nathi Mthethwa on Thursday, 13 July 2017 launched the Debut Fund Programme for emerging artists at Nangoza Jebe Community Hall in Port Elizabeth. The Fund seeks to strengthen knowledge and skills development for young artists and also give them opportunities to apply for funding to further support their ventures. The Programme is a partnership between the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and the Business Association of South Africa (BASA).

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