South African Cultural Observatory

The Creative Economy & Development

BY 28.02.17

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.

 Also, the SACO’s second National Conference 2017 is an important opportunity to profile global and local research in the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) and arts, culture and heritage (ACH) sectors – but also to look at economic impact, employment figures, statistics and other bedrock information that positions the CCIs and ACH sectors as the industry it is and helps unlock its potential – especially in South Africa and on the African continent.

This is because the Creative Economy globally is booming – and South Africa is primed more than ever to take advantage of its creative base. Despite the global economic slowdown since 2008, there are signs of a restructuring and in general a renaissance of national economies – a process usually accompanied by the expansion of the creative and cultural economy. A number of countries have successfully leveraged their CCIs for growth, including, the USA, UK, Australia, China and India and the EU region more generally.

With greater policy interventions and clear strategies, it is possible to develop the sectors and industries further – something this conference hopes to position for both South Africa and the African continent, using best local and global practices, case and area studies, and discussions on policies, strategies and opportunities.

Visit our conference website for more information, to submit an abstract or to register to attend:

The conference takes place on May 24 & 25 at the Turbine Hallin the Newtown Precinct, Johannesburg, South Africa – and it coincides with both Africa Month and Africa Day on May 25. We are building an exciting programme with partners in the creative industries. Also, in March we will start announcing some of our keynote and special headline speakers - so watch this space. 

Update on SACO activities

It’s been all systems go for our national conference and we have just opened registration.The conference will explore the interface between the creative economy and development – an emerging global trend and point of policy consideration as countries and cities try to activate their creative economy to create jobs, build liveable cities and spaces, and grow local and national economies.

We are currently seeking papers and presentations for the conference under one major theme: ‘The Creative Economy & Development – Perspectives from the Developed and Emerging Economies’. The deadline for abstracts is March 31.

In other news, earlier in February we hosted a national workshop on monitoring and evaluation in KwaZulu-Natal, showcasing the SACO’s recently developed ‘Monitoring & Evaluation Framework for Publicly Funded Arts, Culture and Heritage’. The Framework helps creatives analyse the success – and failure – factors of projects. The workshop saw close to 80 people from the creative community, and academics, potential funders, government officials and researchers attending. Read more about this here.

Also in February our scholarship committee met to review over 150 applications for the SACO 2017 scholarship and bursary grant. We are pleased to have selected some promising bright young academics and will make an announcement in March as to who was awarded the scholarships.

We also have some exciting new research that we will publish over March, so keep reading our newsletter, website and like us on our social media platforms.

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

Your Culturalist,

Prof. Richard Haines

South African Cultural Observatory: CEO


Conference to capture creative economy trendsConference to capture creative economy trends

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.

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.


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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Upcoming Events

SACO2017 - South African Cultural Observatory 2nd National Conference

Date:24 May 2017 - 25 May 2017
Venue:The Forum Turbine Hall
Where:Port Elizabeth

Platteland Preview Arts Festival

Date:30 Jun 2017 - 02 Jul 2017
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