Arts, culture and heritage sector's economic challenges and opportunities: Departmental briefing

Arts and Culture

13 September 2011
Chairperson: Ms T Sunduza (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) noted that the Minister and Department had held several meetings to discuss the repositioning of the arts, culture and heritage sector as an economic growth sector, and to introduce programmes that would contribute to employment, in response to Government’s New Growth Path and call for creation of jobs. Arts and culture had the potential to create many jobs, but there were a number of challenges that prevented Government from reaching its intended targets. Firstly, the sector was not seen as a priority for career choices, as it was perceived that it would not offer as good salaries or stability as the traditional professions, and many young people had not had the opportunity to have their talent identified or developed at school level. The lack of clarity in the roles of the Department of Arts and Culture and other departments, and in the roles of the DAC and its own entities, led to overlaps and uncertain responsibilities. There was also little alignment in disbursement of National Lottery Funds. Arts, culture and heritage wee all crucial factors in social cohesion, and those countries with social cohesion tended to experience higher rates of economic growth. The Department had now created new intervention models that were more holistic and geared to proper and systematic planning from the ideas to the final production and consumption.

The DAC described its three
project interventions to stimulate demand for art based products. All initiatives were to build on existing ideas, work through existing institutions and complete detailed plans. Talent must be identified and developed. High impact art programmes would maximise growth and contribute to employment generation. However, it was stressed that a monitoring and evaluation system must simultaneously be developed, to ensure that resources were used to their full potential, and that a demand was being stimulated so that there was greater uptake both by artists and the public. The Public Art Programme would be large scale and labour intensive, with young people being asked to showcase talent in public spaces, which could generate over 5 000 jobs. An Art Bank would be developed, and art would in particular be showcased and sold at foreign offices. The Sourcing Enterprise Project would create a platform to profile all practising and credible creative industries and heritage services providers, and this could generate 1 225 jobs. There were also four interventions aimed at developing audiences, which were the Cultural Precints Project, which would become a platform for promotion and marketing of creative industries, the promotion of cultural events, including major signature events like Jazz Festivals,  creation of permanent information centres in urban and rural areas, to offer marketing material and access to virtual exhibitions and portals, delivery through mobile information centres, which should create about 600 jobs,  and development of Touring Ventures to allow those in remote areas to participate in art projects, with subsidisation for producers and presenters, which was likely to generate 1 050 jobs.

The Department further aimed to focus on early identification and development of talent, both through collaborations with the Department of Basic Education, and through the setting up of after-school centres and programmes, including post-school programmes, and a Master Arts Centre. The apartheid-bias of the current heritage offerings would also be corrected, and new National Liberation Heritage Road and Marine Heritage programmes would be developed.

Members asked about the composition, funding and need to prevent conflict of interest in the project teams, and questioned the increase in the budget, and whether it would be wise for the Department to work with the National Arts Council. They asked how early talent would be identified, asked about schools programmes, and were particularly interested to know how the rural areas would be reached. The Chairperson was critical of the DAC’s success in reaching rural areas in the past, asked how municipal infrastructure would be built – and in some cases reclaimed from its current occupiers – and thought that it should work with the Department of Trade and Industry.
The Members questioned how the bias in heritage institutions was to be redressed. They questioned why the Committee had not been invited to the consultative conference, and called for a further meeting around these proposals.

Meeting report

Arts, culture and heritage sector’s economic challenges and opportunities: Departmental briefing
Mr Sibusiso Xaba, Director-General, Department of Arts and Culture, stated that his presentation to the Portfolio Committee would inform Members about the consultative conferences and meetings between the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC or the Department) and the Ministry, which had been arranged to discuss the repositioning of the arts, culture and heritage sector as an economic growth sector, and to introduce programmes that would contribute to the large scale employment.

The New Growth Path (NGP) of Government envisaged creation of 5 million jobs over the next ten years. In order to achieve these employment goals, all departments and sectors were required to identify areas where it would be possible to create employment on a large scale. For this reason, DAC had to develop a policy to facilitate employment creation. More importantly, it was important to enhance social equity and competitiveness through systematic changes that would mobilise domestic investment around activities that could create sustainable employment. There was a need for strong social dialogue, and for all stakeholders to become focused on encouraging growth in employment-creating activities.

The Cabinet had also stressed that both continuity of existing initiatives and introduction of new ones would be important. The Minister and DAC
acknowledged the importance of including the private sector. Government believed that it could, in collaboration with the private sector, contribute to skills development for excellence in the arts, culture and heritage sector. Existing production methods should be named and there should be creation of new business opportunities to match demand.

Despite the potential within the arts, culture and heritage industries, Mr Xaba noted that there were some key problems or challenges that were preventing the sector from expanding. Firstly, he stated that the sector was not visible enough, and it was not seen as a preferred career option for youth. Mainstream professions such as engineering and medicine offered more attractive career paths for young people than did arts and culture. It was believed that careers in arts and culture would not yield attractive salaries, so there were fewer people entering the industry. Furthermore, progressive removal of the arts from the school curriculum could be seen as a failure by government in identifying and developing talent.

Mr Xaba stated that there was considerable research that was conducted by DAC and DAC entities, but there was a problem in overlap and duplication. Different methodologies and models were used, which highlighted the problems of qualitative research within the field. The lack of a standardised research methodology prevented the various agencies from working optimally alongside each other. There was also a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities of national Departments, and so many departments were overlapping in their roles too. Sufficient communication and co-ordination of different role players, to ensure optimal performance, would be of critical importance. As well as the roles of the DAC and its entities being clarified, the provinces would need to give adequate funding to community arts centres. Unutilised and under-utilised infrastructure throughout the country would have to be examined and addressed. Mr Xaba noted that there were six national theatres in the entire country, but four provinces did not have a national theatre. Moreover, all six national theatres were located in urban areas, which meant that the rural areas were being deprived of artistic events.

Several funding challenges were identified by the DAC. There was no apparent alignment in disbursement of National Lottery funds with policy and plans of the sector. Mr Xaba stressed that whilst it would be important to identify the problems faced in this sector, it would be equally important to formulate a position statement for the Ministry and Department to address the problems and assist with development of the industry.

Mr Xaba stated that global evidence showed that countries with a high degree of social cohesion experienced higher rates of economic growth. Arts, culture and heritage were crucial factors for social cohesion. The arts, culture and heritage economy also had the potential to contribute significantly to job creation and economic growth. To try to bring some more uniformity into the research in this sector, the DAC had
created a holistic intervention model, which was a fairly simple model to ensure that interventions in the sector were systematically planned through all stages from creation to final presentation and consumption. He tabled this cycle (see attached document).

The consultative conference between Ministry and Department had established that a multi-stakeholder project task team, appointed by the Minister, was needed to build on existing initiatives, work through existing institutions, and complete detailed plans for implementation with financial and human resource implications. The Minister had therefore mandated development of a detailed concept and business plan with outcomes, outputs, financial and human resource implications. Any plans must recognise, build upon and significantly expand existing initiatives. It was
important to identify talent and then promote skills development to harness the talents. The Ministry recognised that developing high impact art programmes would maximise growth and contribute to employment generation. However, it was important to simultaneously develop a monitoring and evaluation system, to ensure that resources were being used to their full potential. He also stressed that limited impact would be obtained from skills development and other employment generating initiatives unless it was able to stimulate demand for the arts and culture sector.

In order to increase the consumption of art, the DAC aimed to initiate a Public Art programme. It would be large scale and labour intensive, and young people would be sought to design art work within the public institutions. A lot of wall space was currently being used for graffiti or not at all. Young artists should showcase their talents on these walls. These projects would also have a small scale-community based dynamic, since the National Arts Council would work with local communities to seek out local talent and use it to create public art projects in public institutions. This project would cost about R69.2 million in the third year, and would potentially generate 5 150 jobs [see attached document for details].

Another project that would increase demand was the development of the Art Bank. This was a government structure which was going to procure and curate art for public offices, particularly the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) offices internationally. Government also aimed to increase the sale of art by marketing it in the internationally-located DIRCO offices, through displaying this art, details about it and a sale price, to enable the sale or lease of the work by visitors immediately. The final details still needed to be worked out, but it should cost about R10 million to establish, and should create in excess of 3 000 jobs.

Sourcing Enterprise was another programme that the DAC was investigating, and it would create a virtual platform to profile all practising and credible creative industries and heritage services providers. This programme would require R39 million in initial set-up costs and could generate 1 225 jobs over a three year period.

Mr Xaba then explained
four project interventions that would develop audiences and increase consumption in the arts, culture and heritage sector. The first was the Cultural Precincts Project, through which certain geographic areas would be developed, which would become a platform for the promotion and marketing of creative industries. This programme would generate 1 675 jobs over three years and would cost R47 million in its first year of establishment.

The second was promotion of South African cultural events, by expanding the offering and duration of existing events, including touring productions and exhibition events. Holding signature events such as a Jazz Festival would attract more tourists and raise awareness about arts and culture. This scheme would also aid in skills development and job creation. The DAC estimated that 600 jobs would be created over the three year period and it would cost R20 million in its first year of establishment.

The third intervention would be the creation of information centres throughout the country, in both urban and rural areas. Permanent information centres at cultural precincts and sites of high patronage would be set up, and these would offer marketing material and access to the virtual portal, virtual exhibitions and experiences. The Department would aim also to deliver mobile information centres that could travel to events, create awareness, and support audience development. This programme would also generate 600 jobs over three years and was likely to cost R10 million for the
mobile information centre, R40 million for each permanent information centre and R20 million for content development and marketing.

The fourth intervention was to develop Touring Ventures, so that people living in rural or remote areas of the country would be able to participate in art projects such as poetry, music, theatre, fine arts and heritage. The DAC would subsidise programmes for producers and presenters, companies, artists and small companies, to encourage them to take their events to the rural and remote parts of the country. This programme would generate 1 050 jobs over three years and would cost approximately R15 million.

A further two project interventions were focused on early talent identification and development. In the first, the DAC would work with the Department of Basic Education to set up and develop the arts through the school curriculum. This would legitimise arts as a viable career choice, and also help in identifying children with artistic gifts. Art facilitators would be hired for each cluster of ten schools, would be based at the District Education Offices and would assist in fostering art in young children. In the second intervention, the NaCISA Programme would provide access to art to students who displayed interest in it, but did not have access to it at schools. The DAC would work with different educational institutions to help set up after-school art activities programmes. The DAC would budget for development of curriculum material for arts education at post-school and tertiary level, as well as for establishment of the NaCISA Master Arts Centre, after investigations into its financial feasibility and steps needed to establish it as a legal entity.

Mr Xaba then outlined the three heritage areas for intervention, which aimed to change the apartheid-bias of the current heritage offerings. The first aimed to promote programmes without operational budgets, and that were low-maintenance. In the past, the national heritage landscape infrastructure was skewed in favour of colonial and apartheid heritage. The National Liberation Heritage Road and Marine Heritage were two other programmes being launched. Marine Heritage aimed to build a museum underwater in Kosi Bay, which could attract many tourists from around the world and contribute further to creating jobs.

The DAC was taking these proposals to Cabinet, to request a mandate and resources, and would suggest that funding be sourced from internal reprioritisation of the MTEF, and the Jobs Fund. Further cooperation would be developed with the provinces, particularly in regard to the Cultural Precinct.

Dr A Lotriet (DA) wanted to know what role the project teams had played and what the time span was for their work. She, Ms P Duncan (DA) and Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) also asked how these project teams were compiled.

Mr Ntshiqela asked whether the potential for conflict of interest, especially on the management side, was examined before the teams were assembled.

Mr Xaba responded that the project teams were selected from two groups of people; one from experts in the related field, and the other group were volunteers from the relevant departments who had volunteered their time. The main aim of the project teams was to develop the plans that had been presented at the meeting. He added that the work of the project teams was now at an end as they had created the business plans. Some delegates from the conference would be retained to further assist in the promotion of the business plans.

Dr Lotriet asked by what percentage the DAC’s budget would have to increase, in order to facilitate all the new arts programmes. She was concerned about the suggestion that the DAC should work with National Arts Council (NAC), because of the NAC’s Council’s own financial constraints. She stated that job creation was very subjective in the fine arts sector.

The Chairperson echoed concerns about the NAC’s financial situation.

Mr Xaba stated that the full budget for implementing all the stated programmes over the three years was R1.3 billion, which represented a 12% increase in the DAC budget. However, not this full amount would be required from the National Treasury, because the DAC would be restructuring and redirecting its own funds from some of the programmes that it was currently funding.

Mr Xaba said that the DAC understood the problems within the National Arts Council and the Department would work with the NAC to ensure that the funds were being properly utilised.

Mr Xaba explained that the DAC had calculated that job creation in the art sector was linked to the number of art pieces that could be purchased. The Department believed that the more art pieces that could be sold, the more artists would get exposure, and this would then encourage more artists to sell their work. Equally, the more people were attracted to attend art functions, the greater the potential number of buyers, which again would create more jobs. He explained also that the DAC aimed to subsidise some of the art productions, especially in the rural areas, so that art could be promoted in areas that were not seen as conventional art markets.

Mr Ntshiqela wanted an explanation on the phrase “early talent”.

Mr Xaba stated that it was important to work with teachers in elementary schools in order to identify talent in young children, so that those talents could be nurtured and developed, which would help to preserve the future of the art sector in South Africa.

Ms M Morutoa (ANC) wanted to know how the DAC was going to reach rural areas, and whether information centres would be built in rural areas. She also wanted to know how the local municipalities would assist in the art competitions which would see the artwork being displayed on public infrastructures that the presenters had mentioned.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) wanted more details about adding art into the school curriculum. She also wanted to know how the DAC would align National Lottery money with all the programmes that it aimed to launch. She applauded the DAC’s vision for the promotion of arts within the country. However, she was concerned about job creation and wanted more specific details on this.

Ms P Duncan (DA) expressed concerns on some of the problem statements in the presentation. She believed the arts should not be looked at just through a social lens, but also through an economic lens. She agreed that it was important to promote culture, but said that it should show economic benefit. She wanted a list of all the stakeholders.

Mr Xaba repeated that some art productions would be subsidised, and the DAC was working with local municipalities to convert some of their underutilised infrastructure into community centres that would host local artists’ talents such as plays or art exhibitions. The information centres would be set up in both rural and urban areas. The information centres would be designed to provide information about art productions in the area, but the current challenge in rural areas was that in fact little art, particularly performing arts, was being produced, so it was necessary for the art production and information centres to go hand in hand, through a holistic approach.

The Chairperson interrupted and stated that many buildings in the rural areas that were built as community centres were now converted into churches and were not being used for their intended purposes.

Mr Xaba conceded that this was true, but the DAC was now working to rectifying those problems and ensuring that there were sufficient designated community halls to promote local art and culture within the rural areas.

The Chairperson believed that DAC had focused too heavily on the urban areas and on attracting international tourists, whilst the locals from rural and underdeveloped areas were often ignored. Both were in fact important, and until art that was being produced spoke to the local people, arts and culture as an industry would never flourish.

Mr Xaba explained that the DAC adopted a long-term strategy. He provided examples from small cities in the United States of America in support of his argument that the urban areas needed to be completely developed, and that development would, long term, filter through to rural areas, adding to the development in these areas.

Ms Duncan expressed disappointment that the Portfolio Committee was not invited to the Consultative Conference and she wanted an explanation as to why this occurred.

The Chairperson said that the failure to invite Members seemed to suggest that this conference was hosted for intellectuals, ignoring grassroots organisations and people. The recommendations similarly did not speak to the common person.

The Chairperson expressed her concern again about the DAC working with the NAC, and suggested that it would be more useful for it to work with the Department of Trade and Industry to promote economic development in the arts sector

Mr Mdudzi Mbada, Special Advisor to the Minister of Arts and Culture, apologised to the Committee for not issuing an invitation to the conferences, stating that this was an oversight and should not happen again. He added that monitoring and evaluation was an important part of the process, and the DAC would update the Committee often on the job creation statistics. He stated that although the Committee may have the impression that the views of the local people were being ignored, that was not true. The DAC did aim to teach and inform the people about the heritage and history of South Africa, especially those who currently lacked knowledge.

The Chairperson again reiterated that the local art productions that the DAC was talking about did not connect with the locals. She cited Northern Cape as an example of a province where no progress had taken place because it was mainly rural. She asked the Department to look into the matter and show to the Committee that it was serious about developing the rural areas in the country.

The Chairperson sought more details on how the DAC planned to challenge the apartheid bias in museums, as mentioned in the presentation.

Mr Ntshiqela noted that the DAC had said that this year would be the first of the programme cycle and asked how this would affect the current year’s budget, which had not catered for all these programmes.

Mr Xaba noted that Arts and Culture had become part of the economic cluster of Cabinet, and the DAC was now receiving support to aid the goals of promoting arts and culture as an economic driver.

Ms L Moss (ANC) stated that another follow up session was required to fully understand the proposals made by the DAC.

Ms Duncan wanted assurances about the monitoring and evaluation of the programmes and the requested the Department to keep the Members updated on the progress of the programmes.

Mr Xaba stated the reasons that all Members and staff from the related government Departments were not included in the recent consultative process was that it was hoped to initiate some plans in the 2010/11 budget and if it had failed to do so, the DAC would have lost a whole year.

Other business
The Chairperson stated that reports had recently emerged of conflicts of interest in the Lottery Board, and this matter needed to be investigated on a further date.

The meeting was adjourned


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