Iziko Exhibitions and Northern Flagship Institutions: briefings

Arts and Culture

30 August 2005
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

30 August 2005

Chairperson: Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Iziko briefing on exhibitions held 2004 - 2005
Northern Flagship Institution (NFI) brand development briefing
Brief Profile of the Northern Flagship Institution
Progress report on Northern Flagship Institutions (NFI) strategic plans

Iziko Museums reported that they had received a faxed request on 15 August 2005 to brief the Committee on an art exhibition on post-1994 South Africa in New York. Iziko Museums had never hosted such an exhibition, but had instead held two local exhibitions last year marking the tenth anniversary of South Africa’s democracy. Iziko thus briefed the Committee on the art exhibition at the Iziko National Gallery called ‘A Decade of Democracy: South African Art 1994 – 2004’ and the ‘Democracy X’ exhibition at Cape Town Castle that had traced the history of human creativity in Southern Africa.

The Northern Flagship Institutions (NFI) then announced that they had developed a new name and corporate identity. The Institutions would henceforth be known as the National Museums of South Africa (nmOsa). The Committee was pleased that their opinion had been sought on the brand image change, but several Members found the new logo rather unclear.

The Chairperson announced that Cape Town partnerships had invited the Committee on a walk to experience the cultural vibrancy of the city. The Committee had also been invited by Iziko Museums to be part of the launch of the Memory Centre on 7 December 2005.

Iziko Exhibitions briefing
Professor Henry Bredekamp, the CEO of Iziko Museums, reported that he had received a faxed request on 15 August 2005, that he brief the Committee on an overseas art exhibition on post-1994 South Africa. Iziko Museums had actually never hosted such an exhibition, but had instead held two local exhibitions last year marking the tenth anniversary. Iziko thus briefed the Committee on these events.

Iziko had hosted an art exhibition at the Iziko National Gallery called ‘A Decade of Democracy: South African Art 1994 - 2004. This had showcased Iziko-owned art produced in South Africa between 1994 and 2004. A further exhibition called ‘Democracy X’ that traced the long history of human creativity in Southern Africa, had been held at the Cape Town Castle from April 2004 to end March 2005. A documentary video and a brochure in three Cape languages had also been produced. The President and Mrs Mbeki were among the prestigious visitors who had seen Democracy X.

Iziko transformation included improving raising funding, addressing employment equity issues and improving and refurbishing Iziko sites. They had managed to bring the history of slavery into the public domain through Department funding. Related projects included the Orientation Auditorium, video and audio-guides at the Slave Lodge; the Iziko Orientation Centre at Groot Constatia, and the project to locate the slave-ship Meerin (with its related website at www.meerin.org.za).

Iziko Museums had welcomed half a million visitors in the past financial year, a figure reflecting a 13% increase on the previous year. The museums cared for collections of over 13 million heritage objects. A mobile educational museum was one of their key strategic goals. In August 2005, they had employed a new executive management team with two executive directors, a CEO and a Director of Institutional Advancement. While Iziko had been successful in raising project funding, there had been a steadily decreasing Government grant. This had prevented Iziko from keeping the salary budget of their staff within 75% of the subsidy. For the financial year 2004 – 2005, there had been no deficits on the Iziko’s budget, but a deficit of R1.5 million was expected for the 2007 - 2008 financial year.

Northern Flagship Institution briefing
Mr Mogolo said that upon his appointment as the NFI Chief Executive Officer, he had insisted on an institution name change and brand image, as the NFI carried too many apartheid connotations and they needed to attract visitors from various markets. The second had been to conduct job evaluation exercises to put an end to some unfair NFI remuneration packages.

Mr Vusi Mchunu from Ochre marketing firm then introduced NFI’s new name: the National Museums of South Africa (nmOsa). Ochre had conducted social research on the number of visitors to the museums, and found this to be suboptimal. nmOsa they would position their museums by considering market dynamics, instilling brand consciousness among staff, and creating a new ‘ mother brand’ that would incorporate all the other names. A large number of young citizens were not visiting museums and nmOsa would formulate strategies for capturing that market segment. Through their new image, they aimed to make museums alternative places of ‘edutainment’.

They had learned from international practices that overseas museum programmes were driven by consumers. They had worked very closely with a Toronto heritage group called LORD. Museums played a major role in instilling national pride, uplifting the standard of education, and promoting transformation processes. There was a huge problem of sustainability that had prompted museums to adopt such a business approach. There was also a need to change staff mindsets to work collectively towards promoting the brand image. Museums faced challenges of insufficient marketing, inadequate resources and unstable consumer behaviour.

Ochre had consulted with the key stakeholders and were now ‘rolling out’ the new identity. They would also develop the institutional strategic plan for nmOsa museums. Only the Kruger museum would still be called by its original name in future. Mr Mogolo said that the Kruger museum had been attracting a large number of international visitors, and they received much of their revenue from that museum.

Mr Moonsamy (ANC) asked if the visitors to the Iziko Museums represented the demographics of the country. He wanted more clarity on the 13% increase in visitors.

Mr Bredekamp responded that currently it was very difficult to keep records of visitors, and they were working hard to improve that. Their division was also working hard ti attract young visitors to museums.

Mr Khumalo (ANC) questioned the CEO on the absence of the KwaZulu-Natal and the Military museum from the development plans. He asked if Iziko were following a relevant strategy in terms of transformation, noting particularly the absence of the two museums and those in townships. He stressed the importance of establishing museums in townships and attracting unemployed youth.

Mr Bredekamp point outed that there were four categories of museums: nationally funded museums, province funded museums, local government funded museums, and private museums. Iziko was the largest grouping of national museums and the Northern Flagship Institution (nmOsa) was second largest. They could not interfere in the work of the provincially administered museums that would be in charge of setting up museums in the townships. They could only participate by supporting at a managerial level.

Mr Sonto (ANC) said ‘Democracy X’ was a good exhibition, but thought that the white Toyota Cressida that had transported Nelson Mandela from Victor Verster prison to the Cape Town City Hall on 19 February 1990, should have been included. The Maputo Museum of Revolution had the car that transported Samora Machel upon his release from prison. Mr responded that they had no idea on what had happened to that car, but they would investigate.

The Chairperson asked Iziko to put Committee Members on their mailing list when sending out their next publication. He questioned whether they kept statistics of their patronage and whether they could give more history of the National Mutual Building.

Mr Gololo (ANC) asked about the institution’s contribution to economic development and about museum specialities.

Mr Bredekamp said it was the duty of the government and Iziko to promote youth programmes. They were currently running art centres with the Department. The unique position of Iziko would ensure that it did not only focus on the tourist market, but influence education and the culture of the nation. Iziko would soon table an audit committee report in Parliament on their prudent financial management.

Ms Van der Walt (DA) appreciated that NFI had asked the Committee for its ‘blessing’ on the new brand. She however felt it would be better if they change the word nmOsa to another simple word like mosa or namosa. The Afrikaans-speaking public might find it difficult to pronounce nmOsa.

Ms Mbombo (ANC) said the nmOsa sounded good and appealed visually, but the decision to use lay with the Council.

Mr Maluleka (ANC) did not find the visual appearance of the name very clear. During their visit to Pretoria, the Committe had been taken to a dusty building that had housed precious cultural objects. The caretaker reported that it had been looted.

Mr Mogolo explained that the artefacts had been taken to another building and no cases of theft had been reported to them. That building was currently being renovated and refurbished.

Ms Mdlalose (IFP) felt the word nmOsa sounded good, was relevant to the South African public, and would attract international attention. She and Mr Sonto had problems with the colours that the NFI had used. Mr Mogolo said it had been a matter of design for attracting and capturing attention.

The Chairperson said he had an ideological issue. Both the Committee and NFI would have to differentiate between a government entity and a business. They needed to watch the language they were using to be able to reach the wider public.

Mr Maluleka asked if nmOsa was doing anything to popularise their services or whether they engaged on national campaigns to educate the larger civil society. Mr Mogolo said he could not market that institution in its current state. They did not see other museums as competitors. When they had transformed museums, they would appeal to all sectors of the society.

The meeting was adjourned.



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