South African Cultural Observatory

Top line-up of South African speakers for SA Cultural Observatory Conference

BY 25.04.17

THE SOUTH African Cultural Observatory has secured a stellar local line-up of academics, researchers and creative practitioners for its National Conference at the Turbine Hall in Johannesburg on May 24 and 25.

The conference aims to explore the relationship between the creative economy and development imperatives. The response to the call for papers was substantial the research centre said, receiving close to 100 submissions from across the arts, culture and heritage sectors, the creative and cultural industries, and research institutes and places of higher learning.

“There is clearly a demand for greater insight into the South African creative economy – known as our ‘golden economy.’ While our golden economy remains undervalued, underdeveloped and underappreciated, it contributes around 3% to GDP, employs over 440 000 people and keeps many above the poverty line and engaged in meaningful work,” said Njabulo Sithebe, SACO Deputy Director for Research.

“This is SACO’s second international conference and will highlight and explore the trends shaping our nascent creative economy.”

The draft programme, just released, focuses on policy debates, monitoring and evaluation, skills development and education. It also examines the place of festivals and events, highlights youth perspectives, audience development and provides case studies. The programme is driven by the overarching theme of the conference: The Cultural Economy & Development:  Perspectives from Developed and Emerging Economies.

There will also be 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:

  • 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.

The SACO will also launch its newly developed, free online economic impact calculator for events and festivals at the conference.

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.

“We have a full and varied programme that addresses the real needs of the creative economy. We hope to stimulate debate while profiling the potential of this powerful economic driver,” said SACO CEO Haines, adding that this was the mandate of the Observatory, established as a project of the Department of Arts & Culture in 2015.

SACO is hosted by Nelson Mandela University, in partnership with the Universities of Rhodes and Fort Hare, but operates nationally to develop a comprehensive cultural information system.

The Conference takes place at the Turbine Hall in Johannesburg and coincides with Africa Day celebrations. The standard rate for the conference is R2400 and R1600 for students. Registration is open until 8 May. For more information and registration information visit: SACO 2017 National Conference Website.

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