South African Cultural Observatory

Speech by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa at Arts and Culture 2016/17 Budget Vote, National Assembly, Cape Town

BY 12.05.16

Honourable Speaker,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers,

Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Honourable Rejoice Mabudafhasi,

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee,

Honourable Members,

Chairpersons and Chief Executives of Public Entities,                      

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

TWENTY YEARS ago in this very house, on the 8th May 1996, with great excitement and pride, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa was adopted. This momentous occasion ushered in a new era where:

“Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.

Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedom…

Everyone has inherent right to dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.”

The rights to freedom and security of person, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, including of artistic creativity, freedom of association and freedom of movement and residence are among those rights guaranteed as enshrined in this Constitution.

In the same light, this year marks another three events of historical significance. These are:

  • 60th anniversary of the great march by the Women of our country to the Union Buildings to demand the withdrawal of passes against women.
  • 40th anniversary of the 1976 student and youth uprising, that demonstrated that the youth of the time discovered their mission and set out to fulfil it. As part of the celebration of the contribution that the youth of our country has made, for the first time we will be screening a film acted by South Africans about the life and times of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu. A combatant that was part of that generation.
  • 30th anniversary of the tragic passing of that African patriot and a combatant, President Samora Machel of Mozambique. The Department of Arts and Culture has engaged with the Department of Public Works regarding the refurbishment of the Museum at Mbuzini in preparation for the 30th Anniversary Commemoration.
  • As part of telling our story, a film about the life and times of former President Mandela titled Mandela’s Gun which will be premiered on 26 May as part of Africa Month activities. This film is documenting the life of former President Nelson Mandela as a guerrilla fighter.

Twenty two years since our freedom we need to assess what we have done and whether we have done enough to ensure the realisation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

Nation Building and Social Cohesion

Our efforts are directed at realising the goals of outcome 14, through fostering Constitutional values, creating equal opportunities, inclusion and redress, promoting social cohesion, promoting active citizentry and leadership and finally Fostering a social compact.

Our national identity campaign seeks to ensure that all our learners should know who they are as South Africans and as part of the African continent. Hence we have intensified the flag in every school campaign.

Chairperson, ours is a humanizing vocation and we have chosen to face the restless demons of the past head-on.

As that African poet Ben Okri tells us in Mental Fight:

Will you be at the harvest,

Among the gatherers of new fruits?

Then you must begin today to remake

Your mental and spiritual world,

And join the warriors and celebrants

Of freedom, realisers of great dreams.”

The honest question in which we need to answer as South Africans is, are we going to be at the “harvest amongst the gatherers of the new fruit”, or are we going to fold our arms?

In responding to this question, in January this year we convened the Social Cohesion advocates, as prominent people who champion nation-building in South Africa, to help us address the challenges of the day.

The Advocates produced 11 recommendations and a Five-Year Plan, which includes mobilising society in its entirety towards nation building, promoting and preserving all indigenous cultures and knowledge, continuing to fight any form of discrimination, respecting human dignity and equality, and expanding national heritage.

This was followed by a multi-stakeholder gathering (on 1 February 2016) in Johannesburg addressed by various sectors of society to plan a united front against racism and for building the nation. 

We called upon all members of society to speak out against racism and in all their stations of life to infuse the message that racism is wrong and can and must be stopped. In this way we are continuing our work in cultivating an inclusive society.

Sectoral meetings to garner consensus on key commitments from different sectors in promoting nation-building and social cohesion and eradicating racism are to be held within the coming months culminating in a national convention resulting in a social compact to build social cohesion and strengthen the movement against racism.

These sectoral commitments will result in a consolidated social compact with its accompanying sustained programme of action and acknowledging the importance of socio-economic transformation and alignment to the goals of the National Development Plan.

Africa Month

Chairperson, last week also saw the launch of the second edition of Africa Month under the theme “Building a Better Africa and a Better World”. In partnership with the Reference Group of 12 experts representing different regions and organisations in the continent, Africa Month presents an opportunity for Africa to unite in pursuit of the dream to develop a better Africa in a better world.

The focus of the 2016 edition of Africa Month is community engagement, programming in all parts of the country and in all arts disciplines and in partnership with other sectors to celebrate the cultures of the continent and in honour of those who founded the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963.

This week we activate Africa Month celebrations in Cape Town with artists performing in and around the city today and a colloquium tomorrow.

As part of the Africa Month, the acclaimed Amandla Musical Ensemble will be hosted at Emalahleni. Lectures will be delivered by Prof Wole Soyinka and Prof Harold McDougall and talks presented by Ama Ata Aidoo amongst others.

Significantly, we shall also celebrate the centenary of Fort Hare University, an institution that has nurtured generations of African leaders, through lectures and engagement on the role of intellectuals in developing the continent.

Africa World Heritage Fund

The month of May 2016 marks the 10th Anniversary of the African World Heritage Fund.

It was formed with the objective to address the challenges faced by African Member States in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, specifically the underrepresentation of African properties on the World Heritage List and the insufficient conservation and management of African natural and cultural sites. Currently there are 1,031 World Heritage Sites and only 89 (8.63%) are located in the African region. Since its inception, the AWHF has been able to help African States Parties to nominate 15 African Heritage Sites into the World Heritage List. It has also supported more than 40 conservation projects in the continent. These include the restoration of the destroyed mausoleum at Timbuktu World Heritage Site in Mali.

Cultural Development

Tax incentives

Chairperson, last year we committed ourselves   into exploring tax incentives for the arts. This year in collaboration with Business and Arts South Africa, a detailed proposal for the inclusion of the arts into Section 18A of the South African Income Tax Act has been developed. An opportunity to present the documentation to the DavisTax Commission is currently awaited.

  •  Art Bank

The implementation of the Art Bank is underway with the appointment of a project manager from April 2016.

The call for submissions to the Art Bank will be initiated in the 2nd quarter of 2016/17 and a major exhibition of these works will be implemented in the second half of the year.

Venture Capital Fund

Last year I mentioned that we were looking at setting up a Venture Capital Fund, this year I am glad to report that we are implementing it.

Venture Capital Fund (VCF) is an important source of financing for start-up and other companies that have a limited operating history and don't have access to capital markets.

VCF will lead in the development of sustainable SMMEs within Arts, Culture and Heritage sector by providing finance.  VCF requires a return of their investments and will charge much lesser interest rate of up to 10%.

It is important that we use procurement and business models that will empower our previously disadvantaged groups and are brought to the centre of arts, culture and heritage which will include economic transformation and benefits. DAC sees building entrepreneurs as the vehicle to eradicate poverty, address the unemployment and improved service delivery.

DAC will be empowering SMMEs to accelerate their growth and ensure business support that will improve success rate of new ventures. This initiative will encourage entrepreneurs to start profitable businesses and create jobs and in turn expand tax base and enable government to deliver services to the citizens.

Young Artists Programme: Debut Fund

The creative industries provide unprecedented opportunities for young people. The 2013 creative industries mapping study found that over 30% of enterprises operating in the sector are youth owned. Through the MGE Open Call process we will establish a Debut Fund that creates opportunities for young artists to publish their first book, produce their first play, cut their first album or host their first exhibition. The fund will make quarterly awards, to a maximum value of R300,000 providing opportunities to develop new local content and for that all important “break” in their career. Linked to the funding will be a mentorship programme to make sure that these aspirant professionals have the best possible advice and guidance.

  • Creative Industries Incubators

As I announced in my Budget Vote speech last year, seven creative industries incubators have since been established in Free State, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. Currently, there are over 400 young people engaged in these pilot programmes developing entrepreneurial skills and creating new productions in the fields of performing arts and photography.

The scope of the programme will be further extended through an open call for additional incubators in Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, North West and Limpopo.

Thus the 2016/2017 Budget Vote continues to set the agenda for a better life for all.

  • Community Art Centres

As we ensure that communities become places for engagement and where arts and culture can flourish, there are 250 Community Art Centres throughout the country. These need to be supported through encouraging arts activities in these centres. In 2015, 100 community arts programmes have been implemented, and the refurbishment of a number of centres has begun.

New resources have been made available for further infrastructure development and programming with the aim of supporting 150 community arts programmes across the country.

The arts programme will incorporate the following components, the creation of annual community programmes that activate existing spaces; the creation of training and development opportunities for young South Africans.

  • Living Legends Legacy Programme

Very little attention has been paid in the past to conserving skills and talents of Living Legends in our country. Through this programme we shall ensure that we are giving due respect to our living human treasures, addressing perceptions of our legends being paupers and ensuring that our Legends’ vast knowledge and productivity are shared with new generations of artists and new audiences.

Therefore in August 2015, after a number of engagements with veteran artists from a variety of disciplines, I then decided to launch the Living Legends Legacy Programme. A pilot cohort of 40 Legends have been identified. The Living Legends elected a Committee in October 2015 to advance their work, which will guide and inform the development of a Living legend Legacy Trust that will ensure the continued implementation of the programme. The Chairperson of the Trust is Mr Welcome Msomi and the Deputy Chairperson is Ms Letta Mbulu. Other members include Mr Joe Mafela, Dr Wally Serote, Mr Fred Haggemann, Ms Adele Blank, Dr Peter Magubane, Mr Stompie Manana and Dr Don Mattera.

In 2016, under the auspices of the new trust, the Living Legends Programme will continue to profile the Legends and provide opportunities for skills exchange and performances. More legends will be inducted to join the programme in the current financial year.

We are pleased that we have Dr James Matthews in our midst today, an internationally acclaimed author and truly a living literary legend. We congratulate him on the honorary doctorate he received at the end of March from Rhodes University. We also congratulate him in advance on his 87th birthday which he will celebrate on the 24 May. May he continue to “Cry Rage” for many, many years to come.

Promoting Local Content and Music Industry Interventions

A major focus of the year under review has been promoting local content across a variety of disciplines.

The Department has continued to work with partners in the music sector to implement joint programmes in support of the music industry. The MOSHITO conference continues to provide opportunities for the music industry to network, discuss issues impacting on the sector and trade opportunities. We are seized with the transformation of the film sector and the need to develop new exhibition spaces for the viewing of local film as well as protecting local film industries.

We have supported recommendations proposing wide ranging amendments to the current copyright regime including increasing local content quotas as they will benefit the creative industries and artists in particular and we are working with DTI in this regard.

Heritage

Chairperson, the building of a cohesive nation also requires of us that we transform the heritage landscape of South Africa to reflect the new values of a new country. In April 2015 the Department held a National Consultative Meeting on the Transformation of the Heritage Landscape at Freedom Park.

The Task Team conducted consultative workshops in all 9 provinces. These focused engagements with heritage stakeholders served to examine the current status of the transformation of the heritage landscape in the country, as well as providing an assessment of the challenges in heritage transformation, benchmarking and research in order to develop guidelines. The draft recommendations include guidelines on the removal, relocation and disposal of statues/symbols and developing a vision for suggested theme parks.

The transformation of the heritage landscape took a huge step forward with the launch of the National Heritage Monument in September 2015 at the Groenkloof Nature Reserve with 40 statues having been completed in the 2015/16 financial year.

Progress has also been made on the Heroes Acre with a draft competition brief for the design of the National Heroes Acre having been completed together with a Draft Terms of Reference for the Panel of Experts who will appoint an architect to design the Heroes Acre.  A panel of experts will manage the competition.

Delville Wood Memorial 

The Department through SAHRA has been pivotal in retelling the story of the First World War, including the role of black soldiers and in so doing transforming the Delville Wood memorial into one that is inclusive of all South African combatants who gave their lives for their country in this battle in World War 1, both black and white. A permanent exhibit is being developed in the Delville Wood Museum which will show the contribution of the South African Native Labour Corps. This will be opened before the end of 2016. Next year also marks the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi and preparations are in place for this historic commemoration.

Modern South Africa has a layer of a rich cultural heritage informed by the determination and commitment by the peoples of South Africa to fight against colonialism and apartheid. This history has different epochs ranging from the fight against colonial invasion to the activities in the struggle against apartheid. In commemorating and conserving the cultural heritage of the struggle against apartheid. 

Forming part of this commemoration has been the restoration and rehabilitation of the burial sites of the founding fathers of our democracy. One such prominent figure in the struggle against apartheid, whose burial grave has been restored and rehabilitated, is the late Professor Robert Sobukwe. Plans are afoot to build a statue in recognition of his role towards the liberation of our country.  

Further to this programme, during the State of the Nation address, the President of the Republic of South Africa announced that the Department of Arts and Culture will be commissioning the statue of Archie Gumede, one of the stalwarts of our liberation movement. I will soon be appointing an advisory panel of experts that will guide the process of producing and casting the statue that will be installed in 2018 in Durban.

The discovery by Iziko Museums of South Africa of the shipwreck of the Portuguese slaver, Sao Jose, is the first discovery ever, globally, of the archaeological vestiges of one of the thousands of vessels that sank while carrying enslaved Africans across the Atlantic. This discovery was made under the auspices of the global Slave Wrecks Project, a partnership involving the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and George Washington University. Once more this discovery sharply brought to the fore the horrors of slavery that dislodged the African course of development.

Liberation Heritage Route

The LHR is  a network of sites, places, people and stories (within and outside the boundaries of South Africa) depicting different epochs of the struggle for liberation ranging from pre-colonial, colonial to apartheid and culminating in the ultimate liberation in 1994.

Cabinet has approved the Liberation Heritage Route (LHR) and there will be regional meeting among SADC countries on the LHR. This will serve as a platform for countries to report on progress regarding work of their national chapters.

As we redress the history of those who were forgotten or erased from the annals of history, work is in progress on the Khoi-San Heritage Route to develop an online map that will provide information on Khoi-San Heritage Sites.

During the last financial year the digitisation and preservation of files of the Rivonia Trial Dictabelt collection consisting of 591 dictabelts of this landmark trial was funded and completed by the French Audiovisual Institute (INA) who handed over the digitised preservation files to me on 17 March 2016, the restored digital files will be handed over early in 2017. The Deputy Minister will expand upon this.

Iziko Planetarium Digital Upgrade Project

In partnership with government, academic institutions and the private sector, Iziko will open an upgraded, state- of- the- art digital full dome facility by late 2016 which will offer 3D entertainment and interactive learning  in a vast array of subjects.

Heritage Bursary Fund

Recognising the ongoing need for heritage and archives professions, the DAC will continue to invest in a minimum of 65 bursaries per year. These bursaries provide resources for studies in all areas of heritage and archives study, including study towards becoming underwater cultural anthropologists and archaeologist.

  • White Paper Review

Chairperson, after twenty years of the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage, approved in 1996 guiding the sector, we are in a better situation to assess our progress and refine and recast this framework to work towards the full transformation of the sector. We need to align the policy framework to the National Development Plan (NDP) and to ensure that the policy responds to current and future challenges.

A National White Paper Review Summit was held  in Johannesburg in November 2015 and this gathering has made wide-ranging recommendations that will shape the renewed framework.

NELM

The name and mandate of the National English Literary Museum will be changed and expanded in 2016/17 to incorporate literary works in all South African languages.

As the museum moves into its brand new facilities in Grahamstown, there will be additional space and programmes to promote the literary heritage of all our languages.

Legal Matters

Language is central in transmitting historical data from one generation to the next. Through language we articulate our aspirations. The Constitution recognises Language as an important imperative to the emancipation and empowerment of our people to access services and opportunities provided by government. To this effect PANSALB was established as an organ of state to ensure that measures to achieve respect, adequate protection and furtherance of the official South African languages, including the advancement of those official languages which in the past did not enjoy full recognition are realised.

It is not fulfilling its constitutional mandate, among other things, I had to take the unfortunate yet drastic step of disbanding the Board of PANSALB and I am in the process of appointing an Advisory Body.

The implementation of the Official Languages Act ensures that all national departments, public entities and public enterprises must have language policies in place. The Department has hosted workshops, assisted sister departments and entities to ensure compliance to this Act.

Cultural Diplomacy and International Exchanges

Last year we reported about the work of the cultural seasons as part of our cultural diplomacy to expose our rich arts and heritage to the world.

The programme of Cultural seasons is founded on the principles of peace and friendship, which amongst others encourages people to people relationship.

We have just completed the SA-UK Seasons in December 2015. This year our we will roll out the Seasons with Russia starting in 2016 until 2017 (two years). This is part of the commitment we made last year to engage meaningfully and to work closely with other BRICS member states. African seasons with Nigeria and Ghana are being planned, while Africa Month activities also involve artists from these countries in particular.

In cementing relations with the African Diaspora in general and Cuba in particular, during Heritage Month last year, together with South African students studying in Cuba, we presented a cultural programme for the Cuban people with cultural performances, poetry, traditional dance, storytelling fashion and musical performances.

Through the implementation body of this body of work we shall be able to say with confidence that our country will reap the benefits and the arts communities will be at the harvest with the gatherers of new fruit.

Through all our efforts, in this month in which we celebrate the creativity of our continent, let us continue to build a better Africa and a better world.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleague, Honourable Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi for her unwavering support. I would also like to thank Chairperson and the Whip of the Portfolio Committee Hon. Tom and Hon. Mahlangu for their sterling work, the Acting Director General Vusithemba Ndima, the Senior Managers and the Staff in this regard.

Thank you.

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