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ARTS, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
7 August 2003
DEVELOPMENTS AND PROJECTS: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms M Njobe (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Portfolio Committee Briefings:
ARTS, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Investing in Culture: DAC poverty alleviation programmes 2000-2004 (on request from PMG)
The Director General and sectoral heads of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) briefed the Committee on current projects and upcoming priorities such as the Tenth Anniversary of Democracy and the Mali Project. The DAC's main challenges included sustainable funding for institutions, developing terminology, promoting multilingualism and conserving national heritage.
The Director General, Professor I Mosala, said in his presentation that the Department felt they needed a comprehensive audit of arts and culture activities. He was concerned that various sectors had to begun to explore sector-specific empowerment in order to fulfill government's strategies and objectives.
Prof. Mosala reported that the Department would be providing leadership and support to the presidency regarding the tenth anniversary of democracy.
He expressed deep concern about the sustainability of funding for arts and culture institutions - he preferred to finance arts and culture rather than just spend on them.
The following Department delegates delivered short presentations on activities and developments in their areas of responsibility:
Mr T Wakashe, Deputy Director General (Annexure D)
Mr V Julius, Chief Director: International Relations (Annexure E)
Ms T Ketseb, Chief Financial Officer
Dr G Dominy, Chief Director: National Archivist (Annexure C)
Dr N Mgijima, Chief Director: National Language Service (Annexure B)
Mr S Sack, Chief Director: Cultural Industries and Creative Arts (Investing in Culture Captures Background and History).
Ms A Van Wyk (NNP) was concerned that there was no audit of tangible or intangible aspects of heritage. South Africa had produced new languages and architectural styles, yet skills for heritage preservation were lacking. She also expressed extreme concern about the state of libraries.
Mr T Wakashe (DDG: DAC) said that Japan would be assisting them in a digital audit project in the current financial year. He explained that Dutch partners had developed a document on heritage preservation that was being reviewed by state advisors.
Mr V Julius (Chief Director: International Relations) added that heritage was a focus of multilateral and bilateral relations, citing tangible heritage as a major issue of Unesco.
The Department said arrangements had been made with different countries to assist them in developing policies for community art centres. The Swiss and Flemish would assist with infrastructure, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Limpopo.
Mr M Cassiem (PJC) was concerned that the 'trickle down effect' of funding problems was seriously damaging arts and culture. He suggested that DAC develop a business model and pilot project to bring together business people and artists to create synergies and study viable ways for artists to earn reasonable incomes.
Prof I Mosala explained that this was an issue of governance, and that if one developed a commercial instrument, such as financing as opposed to spending funds, one would need to look at a more an economic approach that would be limiting in the public sector. He said that the National Treasury and the Department of Finance did not like to run business along these lines.
Ms H Mpaka (ANC) asked for Dr Dominy's opinion on the national libraries that had recently required the Public Protector's investigation.
Dr Dominy explained that the investigation had originated when he was not involved in libraries' administration or the reasons for the intervention. He said that the report had not been finalised and he would write to the Public Protector about when it would be released.
Ms Mpaka asked who was maintaining the Conference of the Roundtable of the International Council of Archive (CITRA) and managing these projects.
The Department had investigated community art centres and had found that provincial and local authorities had not honoured signed agreements. Reports of centres still in crisis would be forwarded to the Committee. In the meantime, associations of art centres in each province had collectively sent in applications to the Lotto Fund for assistance.
Ms Mdlalose sought clarity on local government involvement in the partnership projects.
Mr S Sack pointed out that indigenous buildings were seen as part of the cultural industries, which also included crafts, film and music. Furthermore, DAC assisted the Department of Housing in the design and art of buildings and looked at labour intensive skills and artisans. Interaction with local authorities was primarily happening through the nodes. The Department said it was also in partnership with the Department of Education on school projects and workplace projects with the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA). Learnerships had been created with Create SA (more information available at www.createsa.org.za)
Prof I Mohamed (ANC) noted that personnel and administration costs increased by 10% each year and questioned the adequacy of this amount. He also noted that no poverty relief allocation had been made for after 2004 and he failed to get a holistic picture as to where the DAC was going.
Mr Sacks explained that they had a three-year grant for the poverty programme and were not yet assured of another grant.
Ms Van Wyk felt that it was difficult to learn international languages properly if you had not mastered your home language. She wanted the government to stop pushing English to the exclusion of all other mother tongues.
She expressed her excitement about the Mali documents because there was a dire shortage of conservers. The legacies of the Dutch East India Company, slaves, Khoi and San peoples could be developed into international resources with sufficient vision. She also expressed her deep concern about the lack of government support for actors and the performing acts. She felt each province should have its own theatre and that acting companies should be encouraged to go out to schools, libraries and old age homes.
With regards to language, Dr Mgijima said their role was to interface, co-ordinate and respond to the most critical needs of particularly previously disadvantaged higher institutions. Collaborating committees had been set up and that projects were moving at a determined pace. They were trying to find ways to collaborate with the SABC and with the private sector on promoting multilingualism. She referred to three new projects on terminology development spearheaded by PANSALB and the Language Awareness Campaign. She proposed central points in all provinces for the official languages and the setting up of a South African institute for translators.
Mr Wakashe said that the French and Spanish had offered assistance with conservators. In relation to the funding of statutory bodies, he explained that the money, however insufficient, was there to help incentivise.
The Chairperson had recently attended an indigenous language workshop and referred to a concern raised there that children did not take indigenous languages seriously because they were taught by non-speakers of that language at introductory level. She felt that this should be discouraged if indigenous languages were to be promoted. She pointed out that the quality and not quantity of indigenous architecture was important. She also commented that the division of departments had led to more focus and had challenged funding.
The meeting was adjourned.
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