Minister on Department of Arts and Culture budget 2010/11
Arts and Culture
23 March 2010
Chairperson: Rev T Farisani (ANC)
With Minister for Arts and Culture in attendance, the Department gave an overview of its Medium Term Economic Framework (MTEF) expenditure trends from 2006 to 2010. The Department’s budget had grown at an average annual rate of 25.6% mainly due to additional expenditure required for capital works projects such as developing Freedom Park, upgrading and maintaining museums, and improving public and community library services. Over the medium term, expenditure was expected to decrease at an average annual rate of 0.9%. This marginal decrease was because of the conclusion of major construction projects such as Freedom Park and 2010 FIFA World Cup projects. The Department would continue to improve safety and security and improve accessibility at all its public entities. The Department noticed a deterioration in the quality of the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State’s programmes, and raised various concerns about the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB)’s stability and delivery. Through its National Language Programme, the Department had a focus on human languages technology. The introduction of the Community Libraries Conditional Grant discussed and the Director General appealed to Members to help through their constituency work to protect community libraries from being burned down in service delivery protests. These libraries were an example of service delivery. The Department was adopting a new method of reporting to indicate how much money was directed, for example, to South African languages, to children’s books, to infrastructure, to staff, and to information and communications technology.
In response to questions from Members, the Minister assured them that despite budget cuts, the project for a flag in every school would continue. The Minister sought the assistance of Members in their constituency work with regard to the neglect of the many community arts centres that the Department had built. The Minister assured Members that the Department endeavoured to work with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, but it was very difficult for the Department to have a line item on its budget for working with traditional leaders, since National Treasury considered this not to be Arts and Culture’s mandate. The Department had received very little in recent years to support cultural industries – music, film, and crafts which had a very important role if one wanted to create jobs. In other countries, such as India, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, it was the creative industries which were the fastest growing; however, they received support both from the respective governments of those countries and from the private sector. The Minister said that it was important to organise the youth to participate in music, drama, and other activities.
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Arts and Culture, the Hon. Ms Lulu Xingwana, who was accompanied by her advisor, Mr David M Dlali. He also welcomed Members, administrators and staff members of the Department of Arts and Culture, and expressed appreciation of their valuable work. Apologies were received from Ms M Nxumalo (ANC), and Ms J Tshivhase (ANC). Ms D van der Walt (DA) had been unavoidably delayed by the debate on rural development and land affairs, but would join the meeting later.
The Chairperson apologised that his presiding over the debate on rural development and land reform in the National Assembly required that he would be absent from the second half of the meeting. Mr H Maluleka (ANC) would be ‘deployed’ as Acting Chairperson.
The Minister asked if there was a quorum as more officials were present than Members. She was perturbed at the poor attendance, since the Department had made a considerable effort to send, at great expense, a senior delegation.
The Chairperson conferred with the Committee Secretary who said that since no vote would be taken, a quorum was not needed.
The Chairperson noted the Minister’s serious concerns, and said that he would take up the matter with Members, since they had been informed well in advance. ‘There is no excuse’. However, he pointed out, there had been two apologies, and he expected more Members to arrive later.
Department of Arts and Culture: Briefing
Mr Themba Wakashe, Director-General, Department of Arts and Culture, said that the presentation was based on the document Vote 13 [2010/11], which was the Department’s core document and which it had previously circulated to Members. This gave an overview of what had been happening in the Department since 2006 to the present, with projections to 2012-2013.
Mr Wakashe reminded Members of the purposes of the Department’s programmes, and gave an overview of the Department’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) expenditure trends from 2006 to 2009/10 (slide 6). The Department’s budget had grown at an average annual rate of 25.6%. The growth was mainly because of the additional expenditure required for capital works projects such as developing Freedom Park, upgrading and maintaining museums, and improving public and community library services. Over the medium term, expenditure was expected to decrease at an average annual rate of 0.9%. This marginal decrease was because of the conclusion of the construction projects such as Freedom Park, which would end in 2010/11, and the projects related to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. For these projects the funding would end with the conclusion of the current financial year. With regard to the infrastructure spending trends, the first phase of Freedom Park, the Garden of Remembrance, had been completed at the end of 2006/07. Freedom Park was now fully functional and open to the public; additional funding had been allocated to complete the remaining elements of the Park. The National Library’s Pretoria Campus new building had been completed in 2008/09. The Department would continue to improve safety and security and improve accessibility at all its public entities.
In common with other governmental departments, Arts and Culture had suffered budget cuts. Mr Wakashe referred to the 2010/11 budget summary and a percentage analysis:
Programme 1 – Administration, the Department aimed to decentralise the budgetary responsibilities to its programme managers, together with a focus on the intensive risk-management processes that were already being implemented. The Department would intensify its internal auditing processes.
Programme 2 – Arts and Culture in Society, Mr Wakashe referred in particular to slide 12, and said that the Department would direct much focus to the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State. The Department noticed a deterioration in the quality of this institution’s programming; its infrastructure was underutilised, and there were some management issues. This Programme would have a major focus for 2010/11 on national days, women’s celebrations, the Cape Town Jazz Festival, and other projects.
Programme 3 - National Language Service, the Department raised various concerns about the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB)’s stability and delivery. This organisation alleged that it did not report to the Department but to Parliament, while the Department’s relation to it was merely that of a post office. Mr Wakashe had invited PanSALB’s chief executive officer to visit him at his office, but this invitation had not been accepted and an apology had never been received. The Department sought the assistance of the Committee to ensure proper accountability. The Programme would focus on human languages technology, including speech technology in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and North West University. The Department offered various bursary schemes, of which Mr Wakashe gave details and reasons for a current focus on the University of the Free State and Rhodes University.
Programme 4 – Cultural Development and International Co-operation (slide 16). The amount allocated was insignificant when exchange rates, and the fact that the Department was always being asked to participate in exhibitions and enter into bilateral agreements, were taken into account. The Department was currently completing a document on cultural diplomacy, and it would welcome an opportunity to make a presentation to the Committee.
Programme 5, the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) needed more resources. The mandate of the relevant act was ‘quite broad’, and SAHRA could not fulfil it. He referred to the details of allocations to each institution (slide 20) and the focus areas in heritage promotion (slide 21).
Programme 6 - National Archives, Records, Libraries, and Heraldic Services (slide 22), the Department was dismayed at the burning down of community libraries in service delivery protests. This was a very serious cause for concern, since building a library and providing it with books represented service delivery. These libraries were not under-utilised facilities. Mr Wakashe appealed to Members to help the Department through their constituency work to protect these libraries on which many students depended as a place in which to study.
Secondly, with regard to community libraries, the Department was adopting a new method of reporting to indicate how much money was directed, for example, to South African languages, to children’s books, to infrastructure, to staff, and to information and communications technology. It was a huge investment which justified more detailed reporting. Mr Wakashe referred to the introduction of the Community Libraries Conditional Grant. The Programme was expected to grow over the MTEF at an average annual rate of 7.4%. In view of this growth, it was really important to ‘zoom in on this investment to see how it was impacting broadly’.
Mr Wakashe referred to the detail on slide 24 on the ‘flag in every school’ project. The Department had undertaken a detailed exercise of organisational development (slide 25). Its aim was to increase the Department’s effectiveness of delivery in the department. The Department of Public Service and Administration had approved the new organisational structure, in which there would be five Programmes, rather than six at present. The new structures would mean that budget reporting in the next cycle would differ in some respects from its present format.
The Chairperson opened the Committee’s deliberations on the Department’s budget. He confirmed that Members had already seen the Department’s strategic plan and the Budget Vote 13: Arts and Culture document, and asked Mr Wakashe if the budget was aligned with the Department’s strategic objectives, before proceeding to matters of substance.
Mr Wakashe confirmed that it was.
Ms M Morutoa (ANC) asked what the Department thought would be sufficient for international and cultural relations.
The Chairperson said that Ms Moruboa’s question pertained to matters of substance. He wanted first to satisfy himself that the budget was connected fully to the Department’s strategic objectives. He had his own position on the subject but did not want to prejudge Members observations on the matter. He commended the Department giving the Committee documentation in advance. He found no disjuncture between the Department’s strategic objectives and the budget in its broad outlines. It was critical in preparing for the debate in the National Assembly that this was so, and asked Members if they thought that the budget took account of the Committee’s inputs on critical matters during the past year.
Prof A Lotriet (DA) said that this was her main concern. Superficially, the budget had taken account of the Committee’s inputs, but the amount allocated to promotion of languages was insufficient and the lowest allocation. It was not enough to address the mandate. This was disappointing since the Committee had addressed this subject on many occasions.
The Chairperson agreed with Prof Lotriet, especially in view of Prof Kwesi Kwaa Prah’s lecture to the Committee on 15 March 2010 at the Committee’s workshop. It was indeed necessary to begin to speak ‘a serious financial language’ to address this under-provision.
The Chairperson said that the Constitution recognised the position of traditional leaders as custodians of culture. However, he had not noticed any element in the budget that addressed this. He asked if this was an oversight on his part.
Mr Maluleka asked about the building of community art centres, and called for radical improvement.
The Chairperson said that the realisation of these arts centres especially in rural areas with regard to the identified goal of rural development and transformation would be a focus of the Committee’s oversight. The issue of job creation needed to measurable. The Committee would ask to what extent the Department was creating decent and sustainable jobs. He asked if Members wished to comment on any other areas. The Committee would be asking the Department subsequently about any forthcoming legislation, repeals, and amendments; this would involve the Committee in public hearings. He reminded Members that the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act 2009 afforded the opportunity to make suggestions and amend the budget.
Ms D van der Walt (DA) asked about the provision for audit at museums on their assets over a three or four year period. She had not detected it in the Budget Vote documentation. She asked what was the progress and the amount spent. She also asked about the project for a flag in every school, which did not appear to be in the document.
The Minister thanked the Members for highlighting some of the issues. However, despite the budget cuts, the Department still had its ongoing programmes. The project for a flag in every school would continue. This fell under the Heraldry Programme of the Department. She confirmed that Community Arts Centres remained in the Department’s programme. Programme 5 included the capital works budget. The Minister sought the assistance of Members in their constituency work with regard to the neglect of the many community arts centres that the Department had built. The Department sought trained personnel to run the programmes of these centres. The Department was doing its best to assist the local municipalities with this, and hoped that they would develop a greater focus on arts and culture. The Minister assured Members that the Department endeavoured to work with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, but it was very difficult for the Department to have a line item on its budget for working with traditional leaders, since National Treasury considered this not to be Arts and Culture’s mandate. Her own especial concern was cultural development, especially cultural industries – music, film, and crafts. The Department had received very little in recent years to support that sector which had a very important role if one wanted to create jobs. In other countries, such as India, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, it was the creative industries which were the fastest growing; however, they received support both from the respective governments of those countries and from the private sector. She appealed for Members’ support. Also Arts and Culture was not seen by Government and society as an economic player, but as a provider of entertainment. It had on the contrary a major role in job creation, skills transfer and development.
Mr Maluleka took over as Acting Chairperson.
Mr Wakashe added that the Department was collaborating with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation in finalising the draft of South Africa’s cultural diplomacy plan. On whether there was a plan for promoting culture internationally, the Department was planning a two-day colloquium on this, to which various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations would be invited. The Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture, as well as the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation would be invited. Bilateral agreements would be reviewed. It was the Department’s view that South Africa was not getting enough in return and sought more leverage from such agreements.
On the question of languages, if one considered Arts and Culture as the lead department in promoting multilingualism, then the budget was not adequate. However, he was uncertain of the role of other governmental departments, and how much money was spent across Government in promoting multilingualism. The absence of synergy between the Department and the PanSALB undercut the Department’s efforts. At the core of this was the accountability and accounting arrangements between PanSALB and the Department. He reiterated his concerns and his appeal for the Committee’s support. He strongly desired a greater budget for languages.
The Department could provide progress reports on the audit of cultural assets. It was an expensive project. Some ‘fine-tuning’ was required after observing problems in the first phase. He admitted that the Department had followed the plan that it had previously tabled in this regard.
Ms Van der Walt asked if the Department was engaged in discussions with the President’s Office about funding for Freedom Park. It was a ‘great project’ but she was concerned about the large amounts involved.
The Minister replied that Freedom Park had been established as a Presidential project. In 2009 it was declared a cultural institution, with its own board. Most of the funding was basically for capital works. The museum remained to be developed. The Presidency did not have a budget, but depended on government departments; however, it was assisting with the fundraising that Freedom Park was doing on its own.
Prof Lotriet asked about a decrease in the National Arts Council’s budget.
Mr J Maake (ANC) asked about PanSALB’s problems, and if its funds were ring-fenced.
Mr Michael Rennie, Acting Chief Financial Officer, replied that the National Arts Council received ‘a nil subsidy’. They had slowed down their spending. With regard to PanSALB, the Department was just a conduit. He commended the Minister and the Director-General for their efforts to invite PanSALB to visit the Department for discussions with a view to solving PanSALB’s problems.
The Minister said that the provinces were expected to adopt a language policy. However, a number had not. It was necessary to urge them to do so. .
The Acting Chairperson said that it was important to give more encouragement to the development and promotion of sign language.
Prof Lotriet asked for more detail about the destruction of community libraries in service delivery protests.
Mr Wakashe appreciated Prof Lotriet’s question, but replied that he did not have with him the details on this subject, but suggested that there was a need for greater security measures.
The Acting Chairperson said that community arts centres, about which he was very enthusiastic, were not sufficiently utilised. Perhaps members of local communities did not feel that these centres were relevant to their daily lives. However, in some areas it was not necessary to build a new structure. Instead, existing structures could be adapted. He gave as an example an old YMCA building. He asked that the municipalities be involved.
Mr Wakashe informed the Committee that the Department’s Technical Committee had decided that an audit be undertaken on the arts and culture infrastructure of the country in co-operation with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). Rehabilitation of infrastructure, however, was expensive. There was a shortage of infrastructure in rural areas; in urban areas there was more than enough. However, he made a special plea for restoration of city halls, which were ‘falling apart’. They were a symbol of pride, but they were being allowed to decay. He wished to help, but the Department was constrained. Such neglect gave a bad impression to visitors.
The Minister said that it was important to organise the youth to participate in music, drama, and other activities, such as Members would be familiar with from when they were young. There were artists who were prepared to work in townships, for example, Abdullah Ibrahim who had started to work in the Northern Cape and had established the South African Jazz Orchestra, which had been launched in Johannesburg City Hall. One of the reasons that city halls were falling apart was that they were insufficiently used.
The Acting Chairperson said that the Committee had agreed in its 15-16 March 2010 workshop that it looked forward to engaging with the Department at least on a quarterly basis, not just at the end of the year.
The Minister thanked the Committee and welcomed its input and co-operation.
The Acting Chairperson thanked the Minister and the Department.
The meeting was adjourned.
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