Mzansi Golden Economy: Department of Arts and Culture briefing

Arts and Culture

20 June 2017
Chairperson: Ms X Tom (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee met to receive a briefing from the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) concerning the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE).

The Department outlined the benefits of MGE in creating and sustaining jobs, impacting positively on the economy of South Africa, and providing a platform for the works of arts practitioners to reach a wider audience.

The Committee inquired about the marketing strategy of the Department, especially as it related to informing rural communities about the MGE. The DAC gave an overview of the venues, dates and attendance of the road shows that were carried out in order to inform the provinces about the MGE.

The Committee raised concerns that the venues of the road shows were situated in urban centres rather than in rural areas, where more budding and underprivileged artists resided. The DAC resolved to deepen its engagement with the provinces and municipalities in order to further strengthen the MGE and increase its reach across South Africa.

The Committee asked about the funding model of the DAC in order to determine how artists benefited from the programme, especially those in the rural communities. The Department was told to present a detailed report about projects that had been funded so far through the MGE, and a list of artists that had benefited from these projects.

The Committee expressed concern about the application process for MGE funding, based on reports that several applications had been made, but favourable responses had not been received. The Committee asked the DAC to provide a detailed report about all applications made for MGE funding, by province.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson said that the main purpose of the meeting was to require information from the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) about the positive impact of the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) on the society. The meeting would also serve as a means of evaluating the marketing strategy of the Department as regards the far-reaching effect of this programme across South Africa, especially within rural communities. She commented that the DAC had not responded to its request at the previous meeting to present a report concerning community conversations in the public space about the activities of the Department. She therefore asked the Committee secretary to write to the DAC stating that it was out of order for not reverting as expected by the Committee.

Mzansi Golden Economy

Mr Charles Mabaso, Chief Director, Cultural Development: DAC, said that the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) was initiated in 2011 as a strategic investment mechanism because of the potential of arts and culture to create sustainable jobs, contribute to the economy of the country, and to showcase the best of South African arts practitioners to the world. In order to effectively achieve these objectives, the Department had needed to set appropriate systems in place, as well as carry out in-depth research so as to make a case for arts and culture, such that the sector would be attractive to private investors.

As part of measures put in place to ensure the effectiveness of the MGE, existing investment mechanisms were maximised so that arts practitioners with ideas who already existed within the Department were incorporated to benefit from such programmes. New art forms were also identified by means of open calls to all the provinces in South Africa in order to determine how the Department could support such new opportunities.

Mr Mabaso said that the Art Bank was the Department’s first stimulus project that helped to build demand for contemporary and traditional South African visual arts. Explaining how this initiative worked, he identified the inability of many start-up visual artists to showcase their works to a wider audience like their more notable counterparts. The Art Bank initiative enabled the Department to buy the works of these start-up visual artists and create spaces such as government buildings, schools and art galleries, where their works could be showcased to a wider audience.

The Department also created opportunities for crafters through the Mzansi Golden Market (MGM), by identifying South African crafters, documenting their works in published books, and creating portals where adequate information about South African crafters could be acquired.

Mr Mabaso said the Department’s effort in establishing cultural precincts that would serve as one stop facilities that could serve as theatres, art galleries, and public spaces for performances. Rather than start up new projects, however, the Department intended to strengthen cultural precincts that already existed, like Newtown Cultural Precinct in Johannesburg and Red Location in Port Elizabeth.

The Department set up the South Africa Cultural Observatory (SACO) to promote research in the field of cultural information. This body consisted of three universities -- Nelson Mandela University, the University of Fort Hare and Rhodes University.  Apart from carrying out research in relation to the state of community arts in South Africa, this body investigated the effectiveness of the contribution of the MGE to events that already received support from the Department, such as the Cape Town Jazz Festival, among others. SACO was also charged with presenting 20 reports within a five-year research agenda, in order to examine the role of research in the development of arts and culture in South Africa.

The DAC had approved the provision of yearly support to cultural events across South Africa by sponsoring 22 flagship events -- three national and 19 provincial events. The provinces would be supported with R4 million each, with which to organise two to three cultural events per province within the year.

The DAC had set up a touring venture mechanism so that South African artists who were invited to showcase their works nationally or internationally could obtain financial support from the Department.  Within the 2016/2017 financial year, 89 touring venture projects had been supported to the tune of over R8 million.

The Artist in School initiative was set up by the DAC to engage audience development beyond cultural precincts, by taking the works of artists to various schools across the country. Working with the provinces, the DAC had selected 340 schools in South Africa which had so far received weekly visits from 300 artists, as part of school extracurricular programmes. This initiative was designed to introduce young children to the arts.

The DAC supports incubator programmes that help to build capacity in various art forms by sponsoring training in such art forms across the country. Eight training programmes were currently running across South Africa—in Gauteng, the Free State, Mpumalanga, the Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal. The DAC plans to increase the incubator programmes to 14 in the 2017/2018 financial year.

Mr Mabaso gave an overview of the road shows that were conducted in the nine provinces during the 2017/2018 financial year. These road shows provided the Department with a platform to interact with art practitioners at the provincial level and to discuss application procedures for MGE funding with the artists. The MGE road shows took place as follows:

  • Limpopo                   15 April 2016 (265 attendees)
  • Western Cape           10 May 2016 (150 attendees)
  • Northern Cape           13 May 2106 (130 attendees)
  • Mpumalanga             12 August 2016 (180 attendees)
  • Eastern Cape             23 August 2016 (170 attendees)
  • North West                4 October 2016 (115 attendees)
  • Gauteng                    14 October 2016 (352 attendees)
  • Kwazulu Natal            26 October 2016 (169 attendees)
  • Free State                  30 March 2017 (110 attendees)

Mr Mabaso said that in provinces where attendance at the road show was higher, such as in Gauteng, the Department tended to receive more applications for MGE funding. While this situation was identified as a challenge, the purpose of the road show was fulfilled by making the MGE accessible to more artists throughout the country, who were thereby encouraged to apply.

The Department marketed these road shows to the public through provincial authorities. Interaction between the Department and artists mostly took place at designated venues in urban areas of the provinces. This was a challenge that the Department hoped to overcome, as plans were being put in place to take the road shows to rural communities within the provinces.

One of the challenges also realised from feedback received from stakeholders at the road shows was the complexity of the MGE application documents. The Department was working on simplifying the documents and translating them into all the official languages, as well as Braille.

Mr Dunisani Chabalala, Deputy Director: Cultural Development, DCA, said that the Department intended to improve on its interdepartmental engagement with the provinces and municipalities in order to reach people in the rural communities more effectively.

The Department had identified the challenges that artists applying for minimal support for touring ventures faced because of the turnaround time required for approval of such funding.  A Committee had been set up to support artists applying for less than R100 000, to get their applications processed within a shorter period -- mostly within a month. Most of the 89 projects that were supported on touring ventures within the last financial year received funding to the tune of amounts lower than R100 000.


The Chairperson asked about the venue of the road show that had taken place in the Eastern Cape, wondering why only 170 people had attended.  She relayed the feedback she had received from her interaction with two young men in the Eastern Cape who had said they did not know much about the MGE programme of the Department.

Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) asked how cultural developmental foundations were being funded. Applicants often approached her at the constituency level in Gauteng to make complaints about having made applications but not receiving a favourable response. She asked about the process with which the Department funded non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that were in rural communities, and asked the Department to provide a report on the organisations that had so far been funded.

Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) said that he had a gripe with the ‘open calls,’ because in the three years that he had been a Member of Parliament (MP), he had not come across it. He said that the Department should inform MPs when open calls were made, so that they could pass on this information to their constituencies and help to reach such rural communities as the Department intended.

Mr Mahlangu related his experience in the Department of Sport and Recreation, describing how government funding created nepotism in the system, rather than giving an opportunity for the discovery of the best sports talent in the country. While conceding that he may be accusing the officials wrongly, he suspected that this may be the situation with the MGE, and he would be convinced otherwise only when he met someone who actually testifies to benefiting from MGE. He said that artists such as Esther Mahlangu had their works appreciated more in foreign countries than in South Africa, and asked what the Department was doing to enhance the continuity of their works even after their life time.

The Chairperson asked whether the Department followed up on how money given to the provinces was spent.

Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) asked the Department to produce a report on all the festivals that had been supported so that the Committee could determine whether the funding was received by the appropriate artists, or whether other individuals were being enriched. She said that the Free State, her constituency, was very active in terms of arts and culture, and she wondered why only 110 attendees were recorded at the road show if it had been properly organised by the Department. Based on her constituency interactions, artists and young people generally did not know about MGE.

The chairperson asked the officials of the DAC to take note of the reports requested by the Committee, and revert to the Committee secretary within seven days.

Mr Mabaso responded that the Department would produce detailed reports on festivals that had so far been funded.

On the issue of Esther Mahlangu, the Department had set up a programme that would take the music of living legends to communities in South Africa through Master Class workshops. The challenge, however, was that artists like Esther Mahlangu, Lucky Dube and Moses Molelekwa had the rights to their works held by foreign labels, which limited how much the Department could engage with their works.

Mr Mahlangu said that there were artists who willingly ceded the rights to their music to record companies because of immediate financial gains, having no one to educate them on the long term implications of such actions. He asked what the Department was doing to prevent upcoming artists from ceding the rights to their works without proper consultation.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) asked whether the DAC had engaged with artists who had the rights to their works ceded in order to determine whether they were pleased with their decision. If they were not pleased, what could the Department do to help get artists out of such situations?

Concerning the issue of open calls, Mr Mabaso responded that the Department agreed that more work needed to be done. Going forward, a schedule of open calls would therefore be submitted to the Committee. The schedule would also include a detailed report on the media and personnel by which provinces choose to provide the public with information about the road shows.

Mr Mabaso responded to issues about how the Department follows up on money disbursed to support projects. A brief synopsis of the process was: the Department receives applications, adjudicates them, makes recommendations and shortlists the projects to be supported. A project manager from the Department is then appointed to engage with the organisers of the project throughout the planning process, and also attends the event. After the event, the project manager presents a report to the Department which is compared with the report presented by the organisers of the project in order to ensure that the agreed terms of support have been adhered to. 

Ms Mogotsi asked how much the total budget for MGE open calls is, and restated that a detailed report should be provided by the DCA to this effect.

Mr Mabaso responded that the total yearly budget for MGE open calls was about R40 million. He showed the Committee what the report that would be presented to them would look like, by displaying the third quarter open calls report on the screen. The report would include the project classification, proposed date of event, amount requested, amount recommended, details of the recipient community and particular beneficiaries, and the name of the appointed project manager from within the Department. This report was what guided the Department in the effective disbursement of the budgeted R40 million.  

Ms Tsoleli referred to the report displayed on screen, identifying the three beneficiaries of the MGE open calls from the Free State. She asked why only three beneficiaries had received support out of the many applications that had been sent in from the province. She asked the Department to produce a detailed report that not only focused on the budget of the MGE open calls, but included the other funding apparatus of DAC, like the touring ventures and the Artist in School programmes. This report should include a list of all applications made for funding, and all shortlisted beneficiaries according to their respective provinces. This report would also help to capture how much impact the MGE was making in terms of job creation.

The Chairperson asked for the definition of what a job was. Was it about getting temporary jobs during a festival, and nothing else afterwards?

Ms Bilankulu asked whether applications for MGE funding were adjudicated at the provincial or national level. She said that provinces were made up of regions, and certain regions consisted of different tribes who spoke different languages. She asked how the Department ensured that communities at these different levels were not marginalised.  

The Chairperson noted that these questions asked by the Committee were particularly driven towards challenging officials of the Department to think about loopholes in the MGE programme that had not yet been considered. She had received reports, for instance, that previous Eastern Cape flagship events had been dominated by artists who did not live in the province, but lived in Gauteng instead. How then did the up and coming artists who lived in the Eastern Cape benefit from the MGE?

Ms Tsoleli asked why the Department seemed to be concentrating more on supporting events in places like Johannesburg, which already benefited from alternative sources of funding from the private sector.

Mr Chabalala responded that the report displayed on the screen was only that for the third quarter of the current financial year, and should not be regarded as an overall report. The overall report, among other information, would capture a list of all applicants per province, recommended applicants and their respective disciplines, and the percentages per province. The Department was still experiencing challenges in reaching the entire South African public with its MGE programme, but progress was gradually being made to achieve this.

The Chairperson repeated that the Committee needed to see a detailed report of the funding mechanism of MGE. The Committee wanted the DAC to expand its reach and was willing to provide support in this regard. 

Mr Chabalala responded to issues about the venues of the MGE road shows. The road shows had taken place as follows:

  • Limpopo: Polokwane, at the provincial Department of the DAC.
  • Western Cape: Cape Town
  • Northern Cape: Kimberley
  • Mpumalanga: Emalahleni
  • Eastern Cape: East London, at the Orient theatre
  • North West: Potchefstroom
  • Gauteng: Johannesburg, at the African Museum
  • KwaZulu-Natal: Richards Bay
  • Free State: Welkom

Mr Chabalala said that the venues of all the road shows had been recommended to the Department by the provinces.

Ms Tsoleli reacted to this response, saying that the Department should insist on venues that were situated within, or close to, rural communities even when recommendations of urban venues had been made to them by the provinces.

Mr Chabalala accepted that the onus lay with the Department to choose venues that best suited the intention of the MGE programme, irrespective of the recommendations received. This was the first edition of MGE road shows, however, which required the Department to be cautious of the provincial dynamics and to follow the recommendations they were given.

Regarding the issue of touring ventures, he said that the Department carried out due diligence before committing funds to support proposed trips. The Department may have to carry out further investigations, for instance, in cases where child trafficking may be alleged in countries where child artists apply for touring ventures. These sorts of risky foreign trips could bring about delays in the approval of support for touring venture applications. Based on previous experiences, the Department was also working to resolve issues of under-budgeting for touring ventures, so that supported artists were not stranded during their foreign trips.

Mr Chabalala said that the DAC was neither involved in the procurement processes of the provincial flagship events, nor involved in the selection of artists who performed at festivals. The position of the Department was, however, that 50% of the funds budgeted for artists at supported festivals should go to artists from the host province.

The Chairperson said that the Department should insist to the provinces that 50% of the budget for provincial flagships be used to pay local artists. This should be verified by requesting a detailed report that would include a list of all participating artists, after which the Department would make confirmations with all the artists. The Department was thereafter at liberty to refuse to support projects that did not adhere to these terms.

Mr Chabalala responded that the Department had been having internal discussions on how to ensure that provinces complied with the terms of funding for flagship events. The Department intended to have consistent engagements with provinces by setting up forums where these issues could be discussed and resolved.

The Department had realised, especially with the provincial flagship events, that the majority of the funds for support went to technical services, rather than to the artists themselves. The Department was therefore working to see how more indigenous structures could be engaged to provide technical services so that the provinces benefited fully from such events. This restructuring was being carried out by the technical services unit of the Department, under Mr Mabaso.

The Chairperson said that the meeting had been enlightening for both the Committee and the Department. The MGE must focus on job creation in order to be rated as a successful venture. The marketing strategy and the funding model of the MGE needed to be strengthened. The Committee had been concerned at the previous meeting when it realised that huge sums of money were being disbursed by the Department without a proper funding model. She believed that by September, the Department would have a funding model, after the White Paper had been adopted.

The Chairperson asked the Committee secretary to set up another meeting with the DAC regarding the MGE so as to receive and deliberate on the reports that had been requested. This meeting should take place before the House went into recess in July 2017.

Adoption of minutes

The Committee adopted the minutes of 16 and 20 May 2017 without amendments. The Committee adopted the minutes of the 13 June 2017, with amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: