South African Cultural Observatory

Conference to capture creative economy trends

BY Richard Haines 26.04.17

IT’S ALL systems go for the second South African Cultural Observatory National Conference on May 24 and 25 in Johannesburg. We are very excited to present a dynamic and varied programme – featuring a wide range of global, African and local speakers and perspectives; especially since it’s Africa Day on May 25.

We have secure some of the leadings minds doing work to promote and understand the creative and cultural economy globally. We are particularly pleased to be hosting Professor Erez Aiden, from the Rice University Culturomics Observatory who has been doing ground-breaking big data work digitizing books with Google.

World renowned cultural economist, Professor Lluis Bonet from the University of Barcelona, will bring his perspective on developing the Spanish creative economy; and Andres Gribnicow, Undersecretary of Creative Economy, Ministry of Culture (Argentina), will speak about the ‘Creative Argentinean’.

Professor Geoffrey Wood, Professor of International Business at the University of Essex, will offer a global view in his presentation: ‘The Twilight of Liberal Markets, and What It Means for Economy, Culture and Society.’

Again this year we host our conference as part of the Africa Day celebrations – and the line-up of African speakers offers some real on-the-ground insight into the experiences of our neighbours on the continent.

We have a variety of respected African academics, consultants and practitioners primed to share experiences from across the continent. Included in this are:

  • Florence Majachani, from the Nhimbe Trust and an Independent Research Consultant;
  • Butholezwe Nyathi, the Programmes Manager at Amagugu International Heritage Centre (AIHC);
  • Bamuturaki Musinguzi is a Ugandan professional journalist and cultural economist; and
  • Calvin Boasilong from Ideas Expo Botswana.

The conference programme also features African academics and practitioners living in South Africa, including:

  • Oyekunle Adebola, a Nigerian working at the Tshwane University of Technology, who will present on ‘Challenges in cultural and creative industry policy development in South Africa’;
  • Prof Enyinna Nwauche, a Nigerian based at Rhodes University who will outline ‘The Open Access Regime in South Africa's National Integrated ICT White Paper and the Creative Industries: Examples from the E-space project’; and
  • Raymond Ndhlovu, a Zimbabwean at Rhodes University who will look at ‘Developing a Regional Cultural Policy: Guidelines for areas without big cities’.

Then, we have an exciting series of presentations from South African creative industries experts, including a panel series presented by:

  • Business Arts South Africa on ‘Junk Status – Different Futures, Different Opportunities?’;
  • Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection on ‘New Thinking on the Arts and Development in South Africa’;
  • Human Sciences Research Council on ‘African Development & the Arts’; and
  • The Fort on film, television and animation in Africa.

Top local academics – complementing the international and African component to the programme –include:

  • Professor Kennedy C. Chinyowa of Tshwane University of Technology.
  • Prof Mzo Sirayi, Tshwane University of Technology Arts Faculty.
  • Prof Enyinna Nwauche, Rhodes University.
  • Avril Joffe, Wits School of the Arts.
  • Lee Watkins, International Library of African Music.
  • Elizabeth Vale, Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection.
  • Prof Jen Snowball, Rhodes University and SACO Chief Research Strategist.
  • James Drummond, North West University Mafikeng.
  • Chrismare Carse, Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
  • Prof Richard Haines, SACO Chief Executive Officer.

The programme gives special attention to festivals, events and monitoring and evaluation with insights on the Cape Town Carnival, Stellenbosch Literary Arts Festival, the Klein Karoo Kunste Festival and the Mahika Mahikeng event.

A range of practitioners are primed to share case studies on their work with presentations by Refilwe Nkomo from !Kauru, Fiona Gordon from the University of the Witwatersrand, Justine Watterson and Ruth Sack from Imbali Visual Literacy Project, Winnie Sze from the Social Fabric Project, Banele Lukhele from Luk Arts, and Gabriel David Crouse, art critic from Independent Media, amongst others.

 All in all – exciting times. You can view the draft programme here:

And you can register to attend the conference here:


Update on SACO activities

April has mainly been focused on the conference. But there are some exciting research products and projects being announced – watch this space.

Until then, enjoy the April edition of The Cultural Observer.


Your Culturalist,

Prof. Richard Haines

South African Cultural Observatory: CEO



A roaring end to SACO’s second yearA roaring end to SACO’s second year

THE South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) has completed its second year of operation – and we are truly coming into our own.

The Creative Economy & DevelopmentThe Creative Economy & Development

THE theme for our May 2017 conference could not have come at a better time. Post the South African 2017 budget speech, when accounting, fiscal frugality and money are on our minds – there is no better time to talk economy, development and the role of the creative sectors in stimulating both of these critical elements.


Time to Re-imagine ACH & CCI ContributionsTime to Re-imagine ACH & CCI Contributions

IT’S A New Year and there is a lot to be achieved in the upcoming months across the arts, culture, and heritage sectors and the creative and cultural industries. For example, we have a strong working draft of the Revised White Paper (RWP) on Arts & Culture (2016) on the table and the entire industry must offer their inputs to strengthen the policy framework which will inform debates regarding our industry for years to come.

Note from the CulturalistNote from the Culturalist

I’M LEFT, this month, reflecting on the many voices we have heard as we complete a whirlwind tour de force of South Africa where we experienced first-hand the depth of our country’s creative and cultural industries. We have heard the good, the bad and the ugly – in a necessary, complex voicing of hope, despair, potential and promise.


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