South African Cultural Observatory

Conference promises deep analysis of creative economy potential vs. reality

BY 28.02.18

CULTURAL thinkers will gather next week to look ‘beyond the creative economy’ at the South African Cultural Observatory’s (SACO) 2018 international conference in Port Elizabeth.

The cultural think tank, a project of the Department of Arts & Culture hosted by Nelson Mandela University, released its conference programme today saying the line-up represents a cross-section of global and local research and sector status snapshots.

“Critical themes influencing the future direction of the South African and world creative economy are on the table for discussion at this year’s international conference, which explores what it means to go beyond the current expression of the creative economy,” said Prof Richard Haines, SACO chief executive.

“As a result, there are strong thematic strands through the programme tackling the big debates in creative economy trends and issues both nationally and regionally.

“These include urban culture and the creative city; the expanding role of film; new directions in technology, digital and innovation; opportunities in employment, soft skills and training and education; international trade; heritage and tourism; and more broadly the nature and make-up of the creative economy.”

The SACO has also just completed its 2017 Mapping Study of the South African employment reports on South Africa’s cultural and creative industry (CCI) and creative economy – the results of which will be announced at the conference.

“Our own and other research emanating from the sectors provides the opportunity to conduct a deep analysis of both the creative economy’s potential and the current realities facing the sectors and industries. In turn this will help the policy, planning and strategic imperatives – a critical outcome since the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage is being reviewed,” Haines said.

Presentations cover the gamut of creative sectors. For example, Chromomanski Architects’ Rod Choromanski and Mhlengi Gumede will discuss the urban strategy for Cato Manor in KwaZulu-Natal and its expression in the uMkhumbane Cultural Place museum and memorial project.

Dr Sipho Sithole’s paper will look at the Kwa Mai-Mai multi-ethnic market, a zone of skilled craftworkers and artisans in Johannesburg and their resistance to gentrification. Dr Sithole is an award-winning producer and former Deputy Managing Director of Gallo Music Group.

Pro Helvetia’s Joseph Gaylard takes a deep look at the South African arts funding landscape and proposes some solutions. University of Witwatersrand’s Avril Joffe will speak of the importance of local level cultural policy.

Other panel discussions will explore understanding and supporting creative economies in Africa and various case studies by industry practitioners. Sessions will be facilitated by top industry players such as the chief executives of the National Arts Council, Rosemary Mangope, and Business and Arts South Africa, Michelle Constant.

The programme is available here: https://www.southafricanculturalobservatory.co.za/2018-saco-conference/programme.

The conference takes place on 7 and 8 March at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

“We look forward to rigorous debate, critical thinking and a planning lens as important conference outcomes,” added Haines. 

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