South African Cultural Observatory

Meet the women behind SACO: Bavuyile Mbatha

BY 25.08.17

INTRODUCING Bavuyile Mbatha, the South African Cultural Observatory Administrator - a question and answer session in celebration of Women's Month.  

  1. What is your name and how old are you?

Bavuyile Mbatha, 27 years old, SA Cultural Observatory Administrator

  1. What did you study and what motivated you to follow a career in arts & culture?

I have a BA degree in Public Administration and Political Science; and an honours in Public Admin. I didn’t really choose a career in the Arts, it chose me. I saw this position advertised and applied for it. At first it was just a job – but I have since realized the importance of Art Administrators in the field; and the real need for good administrators to support creative endeavours.

  1. Tell us about your role at SACO and what are your main responsibilities?

I’m the SA Cultural Observatory Administrator. Basically that means I’m the small, but important, glue that keeps things together. I organise domain workshops and assist the researchers to effectively do their work. I plan all of SACO events – from logistical matters like booking venues, to managing service providers and thinking about the little things that make events great. I also assist the Operations Manager were needed. I touch a little bit of everything the organisation does – and hopefully make things run smoothly.

  1. How long have you been working for SACO and how did your career journey start?

I have been working at the SA Cultural Observatory since the June 2016 so it’s been a year and 2 months since I started. I worked mostly with students in the past in a job at Nelson Mandela University.

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I meet new people every month, because we do workshops in all the provinces across the country. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet new – especially creative – people and see South Africa. We try to use venues that are based in the creative heart of that specific place, so I also get to see what artworks are out there and what creative people are doing. Each location is unique and I really get a feel for the different art being produced around the country.  

  1. How has working at SACO impacted your opinions on the arts & culture industry?

It really has changed. I never used to think much about art, but I now realise the people that do it are passionate about it and they really want to make it. They aren’t just doing this as hobby but it’s what they love to do. It’s inspiring to see that passion and commitment.  

  1. What type of environment do you work in and what is it like to work at SACO?

It’s an open plan so it’s interesting to work in as I’ve always had my own office in the past. Working at the SA Cultural Observatory is challenging at times – and I am always learning –but I thank God for the people I work, they are a true blessing.

  1. What personality type and character traits should one possess in order to work at SACO?

Be very open minded, be very flexible, and willing to adapt. You know the saying ‘adapt or die’, well, it applies here. One should be willing to do what they wouldn’t normally do to make things work. In a way it’s a mirror for the creative industry we serve.

  1. What advice would you give someone considering a career in arts and culture?

Do it go into it, but do it with a listening ear and attentive mind – knowledge is power in the arts, and the more you know about the industry the better artist you will become.

  1. Where do you see yourself and SACO 5 years from now?

I see myself growing, becoming the Junior Operations Manager of the SA Cultural Observatory by God’s grace. I also see myself traveling and contributing more to the development of the SA Cultural Observatory.

  1. Where do you see the arts & culture industry in 5years from now?

I see it expending and becoming bigger than what it is right now. There is so much potential.  I see it a bit more organized and government having a better understanding of the sectors than it does now.

  1. What are some of the challenges faced by the arts & culture industry?

Not enough funding for their projects.

  1. What have been some of your career highlights?

Working with Prof Richard Haines. He holds so much weight in this country and working with him has been such a pleasure. I have learnt a lot.

  1. What does Women’s Month mean to you?

Its reaslising that women are an important part of society and at home. Women’s Month is a time I often use to reflect on the women that have helped build me into the woman that I am today. I take a lot from the people I meet and I appreciate every encounter that I have had with all the women that I have come across – good or bad. It’s all about embracing yourself and loving who you are and what you have made yourself to become. I am lucky to work with some amazing women at the SA Cultural Observatory – some of the leaders in their field.

  1. What would you say is most exciting about being a young South African woman right now?

Opportunity is everywhere and nothing is impossible. At times it’s dangerous for women, but I trust my God. We need to have faith that it will work out; and that there is nothing that one cannot do.

  1. What career and personal advice do you have for other young women in South Africans?

Be yourself, know who you are and mould yourself in favour of what you want to be. Learn as much as you can every day and do as much as you can. Be involved in your community. Network as much as you can – life is all about special people and moments that come together to push you on the path you need to be on.

  1. What do you want to see happen in the future for women in SA, particularly those in the arts & culture industry?

I want to see them grow and become the people they see themselves being; and also for the world to recognize them and treat them fairly. Women hold so many strands of our creative selves, we need to support women in the arts. 

  1. Name three women you admire the most in the whole wide world, and why?

My mom, she’s the best strong, beautiful and she knows who she is and what she wants. Mrs Phumie Chuks she’s my spiritual mom, strong in her faith, good listener great advisor. Lastly Mrs Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka she’s a great person, a beautiful soul and I love what she’s doing at the UN.

  1. What would you be doing if you were not working at SACO?

I would be working at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation as the assistant to the Ambassador of Kenya or Australia. #Dreams!

 

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