South African Cultural Observatory

Research bodies partner to analyse impact of Cape Town Carnival

BY 17.03.17

IT’S AN extravaganza of creativity and culture not to be missed – but how much does the Cape Town Carnival add to the bottom line of the City and more?

This is an answer the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) and SADC Research Centre intend to find out at this year’s Carnival as they team up to perform a monitoring and evaluation and economic impact study on the festival.

The SACO is a leading national think tank focused on monitoring, mapping, measuring and valuing South Africa’s cultural and creative economy. It is a project of the Department of Arts & Culture (DAC) – launched in 2015, and hosted by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in partnership with Rhodes and Fort Hare Universities – and mandated to produce a working cultural information system for South Africa.

“Research of this nature is exactly what we are designed to do,” said Prof Richard Haines, SACO chief executive. “It is critical for us to understand the impact of events to help support the rationale for funding. For some it’s obvious that the Cape Town Carnival creates social cohesion, showcases culture, and brings local and international tourists.

“Of course, this means both pure economic multipliers via bed nights, a daily spending rate, and spill-over effects into restaurants and shops; as well as other significant intangible impacts. The key to unlocking and understanding this impact is on-the-ground research, which is what we intend to do with the SADC Research Centre on Saturday night.”

The collaboration was borne at the SACO’s 2016 National Conference when Darryn Durno, Director of the SADC Research Centre, met the SACO leadership and decided to team up to develop a research plan for the evaluation of the Carnival.

Festival-goers can expect to see an active research field team take to the streets, in blue SACO bibs and SADC Research Centre T-shirts, asking a short series of survey questions to track a series of indicators.

Durno, who has managed more than 60 evaluations and research projects in Southern Africa, says the pace will be fast-moving for the 20 researchers who have to conduct the survey in less than three hours.

“This will be the fastest survey we have ever run, so it will be a feat for us. In addition to the field team we also have a team of technical experts and analysts who will be monitoring the data quality on the night and providing SMS feedback to the field team to improve quality,” said Durno.

The research will help improve audience experiences thereby encouraging greater attendance and more financial support for the event. The research will also provide critical inputs to help improve the livelihoods of the more than 2,000 people who work on the Cape Town Carnival from all over the city and all walks of life. 

The core goal of the research is to help  the City of Cape Town, DAC and other sponsors who want to know what value the carnival holds; also to inform Carnival management, who want to find out how to improve the parade and other activities to enhance the overall audience experience.

“Our findings will help them decide where to prioritise and focus their efforts. We need to have credible evidence to understand how interventions work, what contributions the Carnival makes and to whom. I am particularly keen to deepen our understanding of different types of cultural consumers – who they are, where they are from, what they like,” he added.

“We are pleased to be able to partner with SACO and hope to demonstrate our skills and capacities that we can assist on other projects including cultural mapping studies and evaluations.”

Haines implored carnival goers to take the time to participate in the survey to help support the extraction of credible findings. The Cape Town Carnival takes place on Saturday night on the Green Point Fan Walk  and is themed, AMAZA! - Ocean Odyssey.

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