Culture is serious business, Moshito conference told

If it were up to Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan, the potential of South Africa’s music industry would be felt all over the world. His strong belief in the cultural sector was shared with those present at the opening of the Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition 2007 at MuseuMAfricA in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Introduced and praised by Gauteng minister of sport, arts, culture and recreation Barbara Creecy for his less-renowned acting and singing qualities, Jordan joked in reply, saying he had to disappoint anyone who expected him to burst out in song.

Instead, he stressed the importance of South Africa’s cultural industry, which is valued at approximately R7,4-billion and employs more than 100 000 people.

“Worldwide, cultural industries have emerged as economic engines. Therefore we have to pay increasing attention to them in the hope they can assist in transforming the social and economic landscape of our country. This sector is serious business,” the minister said.

The yearly Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition aims to be a hotbed of discussion, debate, analysis and information for anyone who is involved or interested in the music industry. And, so far, it is the only one of its kind in Africa.

Currently in its fourth year, Moshito 2007 offers access to industry experts, “Hot Seat” debates in which controversial topics are debated, live performances and an expanded exhibition element.

The event has extended its duration from three to four days and included an open day for the greater public to take part in the initiative.

The chairperson of Moshito, Arnold Mabunda, said he is very excited about the event and feels privileged to be part of the unique event.

“Right from the start, Moshito’s focus has been passionately on South African music—specifically the business of music in this country.

“Over the past three years we have forged a close relationship with government that has seen a direct impact on the business through initiatives like facilitating trips to the Midem music market in France for independent record companies, as well as the introduction of the South African Music Export Council.

“We have also brought in some really heavyweight industry experts from around the globe, as well as within the country, to pass on their insights and knowledge,” explained Mabunda.

Alongside the conference, exhibitions showcasing close to 40 stands will take place, as will live performances and screening of music documentaries and films.

The Joy of Jazz Jo’burg International Festival, which is taking place in the Newtown Cultural Precinct during the same period as Moshito 2007, is another key exhibitor. Here, world renowned jazz guitarists Stanley Jordan and Lee Ritenour, Grammy-nominated saxophonist and composer Dave Koz, and eminent jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves will perform, as well as talented local artists such as Hugh Masekela, Themba Mkhize, Jonas Gwangwa, Thandiswa Mazwai, Simphiwe Dana and Zamajobe.

Jordan ended his speech by expressing his hope that “our talented musicians no longer have to die in poverty, or worse, in the gutter”.

Moshito 2007 takes place from August 22 to 25 at MuseuMAfricA in the Newtown Cultural Precinct. From Friday afternoon August 24 it is open to the public. More information:

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