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ARTS AND CULTURE AD HOC COMMITTEE
1 June 2004
DEPARTMENT STRATEGIC PLAN AND BUDGET: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mrs M Njobe (ANC)
Documents handed out
ARTS AND CULTURE AD HOC COMMITTEE
Presentation on Department's Strategic Plan
Department's Strategic Plan 2004-2007
Department Budget Vote
The presentation outlined the Department's corporate goals, its measurable objectives, and the financial breakdowns of the arts and culture in society and language planning programmes of the Department.
During the discussion, Members raised concerns with the low levels of African languages studied at university level, why only four of the nine provinces have been identified for theatre establishments, the Department's plans to promote arts and culture in the rural areas and its plans to translate works in indigenous languages into English. The Committee sought clarity on the Department's plans to commemorate buildings that were of historical and cultural significance, the progress made in recognising the Nama, San and Khoi languages and whether the Department would be funding artists who wanted to perform at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Clarity was also sought on the federated community arts centres that was established, the work done by the Department in conjunction with the Department of Education to redress the apparent scrapping of arts subjects in schools and whether the constitutionally mandated Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities had been established.
Afternoon session: Minutes outstanding
Briefing by Department on Strategic Plan
Prof Itumeleng Mosala, Director-General of the Department, stated that the Department looked forward to meaningful interaction with the Committee over the next term. He stated that the President must be thanked for creating a new and separate Arts and Culture Department. He conducted the portions of the presentation that dealt with the aims of the Department, its corporate goals, measurable objectives per programme and the financial breakdown of the Department's programmes to achieve its goals.
Mr Sidney Selepe, Chief Director: Arts & Culture in Society, dealt with the financial breakdown of the arts and culture in society in the presentation, which included funds allocated to performing arts institutions, orchestras and the 10 Years of Freedom Celebrations.
Mr Xolile Mfaxa, Director: Terminology Co-Ordination & Language Planning, dealt with the financial breakdown of the national language service programme, which included the funds allocated to language planning and development, national terminology and the Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB).
Ms S Motubatse-Hounkpatin (ANC) stated that when she recently inquired at UNISA as to the number of students that were studying African languages, she was told that one centre had less than three students in those courses. This was a great concern because the African languages were not being properly promoted. This needed strong co-ordination between the Department and the Department of Education.
Secondly, Ms Motubatse-Hounkpatin asked the Department to explain why only four provinces have been identified for the establishment of theatres, when the country consisted of nine provinces.
Mr Selepe replied that the Department was very aware of the fact that there were currently only six theatres in the country that received an annual grant from the Department, and those playhouses were located only in four provinces. There were many reasons but one of them was that this was a historical problem inherited by the Department. Although they were not the only playhouses in South Africa that received financial support from government, they were however the only ones that received funding from the national Department.
The difference was therefore that the other six were the flagships of the country and the challenge that faced the Department was to establish flagship theatres in the other provinces. This became a difficult matter because the national Department was only contributing about 70% towards the running of the centre, and it thus really depended on the financial strength of the local government structures in that area and on the availability of resources from the province. The national Department was consulting with its provincial counterparts to continue the partnership in order to produce these flagships. In the absence of this, the Department was investing resources into community arts centres.
Ms Motubatse-Hounkpatin requested the Department to indicate the progress made in its plans to promote and distribute information on the Department and its activities.
Mr K Moonsamy (ANC) asked the Department to explain how arts and culture was being promoted in the nine provinces, and how the Department reached all communities.
Secondly, Mr Moonsamy asked the Department to explain the extent to which it was promoting arts and culture in the rural areas.
Mr Selepe replied to these two questions by stating that the laws of the country required the arts and culture programmes and mandates to be executed via the provincial departments of arts and culture in each of the nine provinces. However, the national Department has developed programmes that benefit people in both urban and rural areas, and the area of craft development has been very successful in this regard. In all such programmes, the Department worked very closely with the provincial departments of arts and culture.
It was true that those in urban areas enjoyed greater access to the services provided by government than those living in the rural areas, and it was thus perhaps important for the Department to consider steps to increase its bias in favour of rural communities in all its programmes. The Director-General planned to address all arts and culture institutions during 2004 to ensure that all arts and culture programmes were prioritised.
Mr Moonsamy requested the Department to explain the tasks and mandate of the National Arts Council (NAC).
Secondly, Mr Moonsamy asked whether books written in African indigenous languages could be translated into the two "advantaged" languages.
The Director-General replied that the Minister was interested in this issue himself, and he stated that the publishing industry was currently very culturally biased. Bookshops very rarely contained indigenous language books. This would have to be addressed both via the Cultural Industries Strategy and the Heritage Strategy.
Mr Mfaxa added that one of the language projects that the Department was launching in Durban was the Language Research and Development Centres that would be located in each of the provinces and would be dedicated to each of the nine indigenous official languages. These centres would focus on the promotion and development of indigenous languages, because this was identified as an area of need. One of the projects would be the translation of material in African languages into English, and vice versa.
Mr Moonsamy stated that there were some very important places and buildings that were of historical significance during the liberation struggle, and they should be remembered and officially recognised.
Mr Themba Wakashe, Deputy Director-General: Heritage and National Archives, responded that over the next two financial years the Department would be putting aside resources to conduct a survey and map out all the historical sites in the country. This will be done in partnership with the provincial departments. It was interesting to note that the majority of the historical sites were actually not located in the urban areas, and were not receiving attention. The Department was also considering the development of "heritage trails" which was essentially a map of all historical sites in a particular area.
Once this was done the heritage landscape of the country would change and histories that were not previously acknowledged would be recognised and affirmed. These historical sites could then also be linked to the nodal development zones, so that they could serve as a nucleus for local tourism and further local development. The South African Heritage Resources Agency was an associated institution of the Department and assisted in this process.
A critical aspect of this kind of process would be to embark on knowledge campaigns because information of this kind would not necessarily be found at any tertiary institutions, as most reside in individuals.
Mr H Maluleka (ANC) expressed concern with the uneven distribution of resources amongst the theatres, as those serving "white interests" were advantaged and had better facilities. He asked the Department to indicate the progress it has made in restoring the balance.
Secondly, Mr Maluleke asked the Department to explain its efforts in attracting interest in orchestras in the townships.
Mr Selepe replied that historically music genres such as classic and opera were perceived as a "white" artform, and thus over the past ten years there has been a very significant shift by which different genres of music were being explored. There have thus been many people from the townships who have gained interest in that kind of music. The Department has set a number of conditions around the establishment of orchestras and one of them was that the orchestra company must be open to everybody, irrespective of race. Thus the Cape Philharmonic and the Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic, which were the only two companies that were already in existence in South Africa, have met that condition to the Department's satisfaction.
There were also a number of other conditions and one of the most important was the cadet-ship requirement, which required the orchestra companies to run workshops in the township areas and introduce that kind of music to people who have historically been excluded from the genre. It was due to the fact that the companies were able to meet the requirements set by the Department that it in turn committed resources to the companies.
Mr M Sonto (ANC) stated that he agreed with the point made by the Director General in the presentation that cultural dance was normally viewed merely as a curtain raiser, and this was unhealthy for the Department. He asked the Department to explain its plans to interface with other government departments to put a stop to this perception.
Secondly, Mr Sonto stated that electronic and print media would be considered essential in promoting language planning and development, yet the SABC itself did not employ anyone who was not proficient in English. He asked the Department to explain how it would overcome this hurdle if it still wanted to promote and development the indigenous languages.
Mr Mfaxa responded that those people who could not be employed would have to be made aware of their rights, because the Constitution prohibited discrimination against people in terms of their language. One of the key features of the Department's policy was that no language would be used to discriminate unfairly against people. Only after the promulgation of the South African Languages Act would government then have teeth with which to enforce that law.
The Director-General added that the SABC was the most powerful instrument of the public and it should be conveying the values and norms of South African society in an equitable and progressive way. There was unhappiness across the board especially when it came to the indigenous nature of the SABC's local content, and this raised a major problem.
Mr Sonto asked the Department to clarify the judicial status of PANSALB.
The Chair expressed concern at the apparent duplication or overlap between the work done by PANSALB and the National Language Service.
Ms Mpaka sought clarity on the progress made on the Nama, San and Khoi languages.
Mr Mfaxa replied to these three questions by stating that one of PANSALB's key projects, besides lexicography, was that it took over the former language bodies whose functions were to create terminology and ensure that certain books were prescribed at schools and universities. It has created a structure known as national language bodies that served to look into the functioning of each of the official languages, including the Nama and Khoi languages. This was an important step because this service was not provided for under the former language bodies.
The Department recognised a possible overlap between the work done by PANSALB and the Department, but the Department was more focused on the development of the language policy and its implementation within government. PANSALB however focused on lexicography and the added function of protecting the rights of the users of the languages themselves. It was however true that these overlaps could happen in the absence of a good working relationship with PANSALB. It was for this reason that the Director-General has already interacted with PANSALB to devise a constant communication and interaction strategy between PANSALB and the National Language Service. The PANSALB Act would have to be amended, by the request of PANSALB itself, so that they could have more teeth to enforce the laws that dealt with language.
The Director-General added that there was some confusion on the areas that fell within the jurisdiction of PANSALB and those that fell with the Department, and this has resulted in the overlap and possible duplication. Efforts have been made by the Department to clarify it. The Director-General stated that he believed PANSALB to perform more of a regulatory function, whereas the Department was a policy-making and policy-implementing body. When both bodies performed their functions they have stepped on each other's toes to the extent that the PANSALB has taken the Department to the Public Prosecutor because it felt that the Department was interfering in the work done by PANSALB. A review of the PANSALB Act was recommended by the recent MinMec meeting to resolve this problem.
Ms H Mpaka (ANC) asked whether the Department would be providing funding for those artists who want to perform at the Grahamstown festival but who did not have the necessary funds. The NAC did not clearly state whether it would be providing this funding or not.
Mr Selepe responded that the NAC would provide funding to artists; especially those who wanted to perform in Grahamstown. He stated that he understood the controversy around the issue to be that, because the board of the NAC had suspended the CEO for reasons which the Department has been interacting with the board about, the criticism tended to focus on whether funding would in fact take place if the CEO has been suspended. The answer was that the NAC would continue to do its work whether the CEO was there or not, and people would thus receive the funding they needed. There was a slight delay but artists whose applications for funding have been approved would receive their funds to participate in the festival.
The NAC also provided an annual grant of about R1m to the Grahamstown Festival, and it also received funds from the Eastern Cape government, the Lottery Fund and Standard Bank.
Ms Mpaka asked the Department to explain the role of local government structures in promoting arts and culture via the community arts centres. This was important because, in the past, problems have been experienced with the maintenance of those arts centres by local authorities.
Mr Selepe replied that this problem has not been fully resolved and, depending on different areas around the country, some local government structures have the necessary resources to do this whereas others did not. There were cases in which the Department did not provide funds for the maintenance of the community arts centre in an under-resourced community, but instead ensured that it did run programmes. This was the role introduced by the Department as an interim measure.
According to government policy, the provincial and local government structures should be taking responsibility for maintaining and running community arts centres. But because this was not happening in most of the community arts centres, the Department introduced the interim response.
Ms Mpaka asked the Department to explain who exactly constituted the federation of community arts centres that was established last year.
Mr Selepe responded that over the past three years the Department realised that, due to the lack of capacity especially in the local government sphere, it was important that the Department be involved. This would allow those community arts centres that have been built by government to be utilised. There were two streams of art centres: those 48 built by government since 1994, as well as the community area initiatives which existed before 1994 such as the Federated Union of Black Artists and the Katlehong Arts Centre in Gauteng.
Government thus decided that it must ensure that all community arts centres function because they all serve the community, and encouraged all to form a single structure so that they could have a single vision. This was how the Federation of Community Arts Centres came about. The Department did not influence the decisions as to who exactly constituted that federation, as its only aim was to ensure that members from both streams were involved. It also included people from the three spheres of government.
Ms Mpaka asked whether the cultural institutions as well were engaged in implementing the language planning and development programme.
Mr Mfaxa replied that government was of the view that it must begin to implement its projects within government departments themselves, so that all other institutions would then follow what government was doing. The Department was thus engaging with other government departments as well as the institutions.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked whether the Department had devised a plan to work with the Department of Education to redress the scrapping of the arts related subjects from the education curricula.
The Director-General replied that this was a matter of great concern for the Department. He questioned however whether there was an actual decision to scrap arts related subjects. This was however one of the "unfunded mandates" and schools and universities would then dump those activities which they considered less attractive financially. The decisions were thus taken on financial grounds, rather than on issues of proper policy and national interest. It was in this area that the support of Parliament was needed, because it was an example of the kinds of situations over which the Department had no control.
The Department did however provide a series of bursaries, but this was strictly speaking a function to be performed by the Department of Education. The problem was that the Department struggled to develop people who could be taken on by the Department in pursuance of its language mandate, and the bursaries were thus launched in Durban to encourage people to improve themselves in this area of need.
Mr Mfaxa added that the Department launched a bursary scheme which was aimed to combat the dwindling number of university students in certain language areas of need identified by the Department. The areas in which the bursary was provided were translation and editing, human language technologies, language planning, terminology development and interpreting. In 2004 a total of 55 post-graduate students were funded and, as of next year, the Department would be funding the same number of students if not up to 80 students. These would especially target those languages that were most marginalised: tshiVenda, tsiTsonga, siSwati and isiNdebele.
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked whether any progress was made with regard to the establishment of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities as provided for in Section 185 of the Constitution.
The Director-General responded that the Commission had been created and was situated within the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG). The two departments were interacting because the Commission impinged on the work done by the language service unit within the Department. The departments must arrive at a consolidated approach to this matter because each Department was doing part of the work.
Mr Mfaxa added that the Director-General has in fact approved a Committee that would deal with language issues that stemmed from the Department, DPLG as well as PANSALB. This decision was taken because it was realised that there was a need for co-ordination between these three entities.
The promulgation of the South African Languages Act would provide the solution to all the Department's language problems as it would be the key legislation and blueprint for language policy in South Africa. It would supersede all other legislation on language matters. There was a policy on language in education which the Department would like to utilise
The Director-General stated that during 2004 the Department had submitted a policy framework on South African language to Cabinet. It was adopted and the resultant Bill would now be presented to Parliament in 2004, so that the Act could be promulgated. It would be an overall supportive Bill that would enable the Department of Education, for example, with its own legislation on schools and how to promote the use of language in schools.
[There has been a delay in the production of the minutes for this session. It will be placed here as soon as it is available]
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