Afrikaans Taal Museum on its programme performance

Arts and Culture

16 September 2014
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Meeting Summary

A representative of the Afrikaans Taal Museum (ATM) briefed the Committee of the purpose and role of the museum in addition to an overview of staff and visitor statistics, its budget, various programmes and challenges it faced. Its mission statements and values were outlined before detailing the budget for the financial year 2014/2015. Of the R6 445 000 budget, 18% was self-generated whilst the rest was provided for by the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC). One of the main challenges was paying the audit fee, whilst there were also staff capacity and infrastructure issues.

The ATM’s expenditure focused on several education and heritage programmes aimed at learners and the promotion of Afrikaans, in addition to undertaking research, creating a database of artefacts and the transformation of its exhibitions. Income was generated from visitors and a variety of profitable events, such as the summer picnic series and conferences. Going forward the ATM looked to increase its educational and heritage activities, encourage more visitors in and expand on their events programme.

During the discussion members commented on the negative associations with Afrikaans in black communities. How was the ATM addressing this? The museum’s work towards social cohesion was commendable. How does it measure its impact on learners? Is the ATM being assisted by the DCA in relation to the issue with the audit fees? Why are they not factored into the budget? Is staff capacity an issue when it comes to producing financial statements? Regarding the ATM council, has the process of appointing a new one after it expires begun? The short courses offered by the ATM were questioned. Are they accredited? Does the ATM charge for them?

Meeting report

Presentation by the Afrikaans Taal Museum
A representative of the Afrikaans Taal Museum described its legal mandate through compliance with the constitution and its relationship with key acts of parliament, such as the Cultural Institutions Act (CIA), the National Heritage Resources Act (NHRA) and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). As with other government entities, it is subject to Treasury Regulations. Under the CIA it is defined as both a museum and monument and under the PFMA is a Schedule 3A public entity.

The purpose of the museum is to portray the story of Afrikaans by collecting, conserving and exhibiting relevant items, and offering various educational, public, research and outreach programmes. It is governed by a non-executive council of independent members appointed by the Minister. The ATM is accountable to the Minister, the National Treasury (NT) and Parliament. Its aim is to give an inclusive audience the ability to respect and appreciate the diversity of Afrikaans.

Key mission statements that were highlighted included relationship building on a multicultural and multilingual basis, giving impetus and direction to social cohesion and nation building, and the portrayal of the origin, development, benefit and expansion of Afrikaans to stimulate visitor interaction. The values it upheld included striving for the wellbeing of Afrikaans in South African society through the establishment of respect between Afrikaans speakers and other native languages, always working transparently according to relevant legislation framework, and maintaining high levels of integrity, reliability and professionalism through acknowledgement of the human dignity of all race groups and the promotion of transformation in museum activities. In the last 5 financial years the museum received 262 060 visitors, with 57 000 of those in 2013/2014.

Budget and Challenges
There is an overall budget increase of 7.47% from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015. 18% of the ATM’s funds are self-generated and the aim is to raise this to 25% through increasing visitor numbers, fundraising events, selling new ATM products and relevant short courses. Both revenue and expenditure for 2014/2015 stood at R6445000 with an expectation for this to rise to R7 492 000 by 2017/2018.  Expenses included audit fees, 24 staff members, infrastructure development and the provision of emergency services at events in their Garden Theatre.

The audit fees posed a challenge as they were 11% of the ATM’s budget and it was not possible for them to pay this amount. They are liable for 1% of the fee and, according the PAA, the NT should pay the rest, but it only paid 22%. Other challenges included the funding of staff and increasing their wages according to the cost of living rate, lack of capacity threatening compliance with legislation, the need for two security guards and the funding of educational and heritage projects. There were also issues with an old electricity supply causing frequent power outages at the monument and offering a professional service to the public with a small number of staff.

Educational programmes included presenting at the Robben Island Youth Day, sponsoring 15 buses to transport less privileged schools to the museum, reaching 997 learners through a reading group in Porterville and holding 2 language competitions. Heritage programmes covered 5 special projects aimed at collecting and recording intangible heritage, such as oral history and storytelling. There were also events on Heritage Day, Emancipation of Slavery Day and the International Day of Monuments. Research undertaken by the ATM is disseminated through lectures, articles and their website, whilst heritage documents are available to visitors and researchers in their reading room. In terms of their collections, documentation of objects to an electronic register is on-going and several artefacts have been restored in the past financial year. Exhibitions at the ATM have been transformed to tell the complete story of Afrikaans.

With regard to means of income, profitable events such as the summer picnic series attracted 6 146 guests and received sponsorship by the Afrikaans TV channel KykNET to the value of R416 100. The venue collaborated with South African Tourism and SATSA to host 100 tour operators and tourism role players by renting it out. A new conference venue has been launched at the Taalmonument. 

Prospects for 2014/2015 and Beyond
To effectively service the South African community and tourism market with growing visitor numbers, the restaurant at the monument is being upgraded and extended to an adjacent conference centre. Afrikaans will be promoted through educational programmes, guided tours and cultural activities, and there will continue to be specific programmes for special days, such as Heritage Day, Emancipation Day and International Museum Day. It will look to sustain literary programmes in rural towns and collaborate on heritage projects on local, national and provincial levels. Highlighted was the Herbs as Cultural and Natural Heritage project, where a database of different herbs was being compiled and a herbal market day would allow the public the to share their products with a wider audience. Regarding profitable events, there were plans to expand on the summer picnic series to include an outdoor cinema.

The Chairperson commended the ATM’s commitment to their cause. Unity is very important for the institution because it is only when unified they can do things to benefit the whole nation. If they remain united and committed, they will be able to face any challenge. They encourage the people to be part of what they are doing and input from the community is something which is needed. Regarding the issue of the council that is soon to expire, has a process begun to establish a new one? The expiry should not create a vacuum. Are the short courses accredited? Does the ATM charge for them? As for the audit fees, all institutions have this problem and it is something that the AG should discuss with the treasury. The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) should be at the forefront because the ATM is an entity funded by them, so it must assist. It needs to be done as soon as possible. The DAC needs to consult with the NT and the AG to see how it can be done.

Another member raised an issue [inaudible].

The Chairperson went on to ask how the ATM ensured that it changed the negative connotations with Afrikaans due to the 1974 decree. When going to the townships where there are black people with a negative attitude, how does the ATM work with them to ensure they ease in to the speaking of Afrikaans? When it is no longer compulsory pupils often want nothing more to do with it and question whether Afrikaans should be taught at all.  A method must be found to show people that there is nothing wrong with the language, only the way it was imposed on South African citizens. However, it is a beautiful language and a beautiful toolof dialogue.

Another member asked about the audit fees [inaudible] - surely they should correlate with the ATM's budget? Are they not factored in by the Department? [inaudible] Afrikaans is the third biggest language in South Africa and those statistics alone would suggest a need to change this negative perception. It is not only similar to Dutch, it has influences from other African and Malay languages.

Mr T Makondo (ANC) thanked the previous member as he did not know there was a difference between Dutch and Afrikaans. The Committee appreciated the work being done at the ATM. Staff members go beyond the call of duty and their involvement of the community is commendable. He had a negative mind-set before arriving but has learn a lot about building social cohesion in the community. Does the ATM have the capacity to generate its financial statements for the audit? The AG complains if they are not provided. How does the ATM balance the cost of auditing?

Another member made a comment [inaudible].

The Chairperson added that the ATM was financially reliant on the Department. Do they sufficiently provide the ATM with security? Do the learners pay when they come to the museum? Are they part of the fundraising venture? The issue of integration is measured by the ATM very well – they are a commendable example of an institution which is working effectively with others. How do you measure the impact that you have on those schools? Finance is a critical area that needs looking at. The irregular expenditure does notnecessarily mean the money is misused. Could the Committee get some information on this?

A member from the ATM’s board said that the ATM council expires at the end of the month. The ATM havediscussed the Chairpersonship with the DG and Deputy DG at the DAC to identify suitable candidates and a solution is on its way to the minister to approve, so the Chairperson should be appointed and the issue resolved by the end of the month. [inaudible]. There is a CFO forum for public entities and audit fees were identified as a problem area at the last one. The board have done an exercise looking at all public entity audit fees in terms of what they are allocated and what their audit fees have been for the past few years. This will be presented to the AG as well as the NT. It is a problem – the ATM cannot just appeal to the NT for more funds, they need to put forward a pitch. A working group consisting of the CFOs of the two [inaudible] institutions has mapped out all the problems and asked for additional funding, so the plan of action is to show them the ATM’s progress at each level. The ATM need to show them commitment are going to ask for money to implement this [inaudible]. There has not been any reward for the good work of the last couple of years and as the Department have identified this area of concern they need to take it to another level. As part of the ATM’s strategic plan a funding model has been identified, so these rewards can be built in rather than just a historic incremental budget. If an institution is doing great work they must be compensated for it, if not they get an incremental allocation. On an operational side it's difficult to get an increase in overall funding from the NT [inaudible]. There is an infrastructure allocation but none on the operational side.

The Chairperson agreed that institutions should be rewarded when they are doing well.

A member commented [inaudible]

The Chairperson thanked the ATM for their presentation and said she hoped the DAC would take responsibility for the issues they raised. The Committee is appreciative of their work and would like to return to see how they are doing.The Committee is an oversight body working on behalf of the interests of the people so they want to continue to work with the ATM and assist them when needed. They cannot assist financially, but the ATM’s management of its funds is something that others could learn from. It would be useful for all entities under the DAC to share ideas and learn from each other. The ATM’s work is commendable and the manner in which they handle their programme is impressive, and the Committee would like to share that with other institutions.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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