Department of Arts and Culture steps up pace of transformation

Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Maggie Sotyu and Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mathethwa at the Budget Vote in Parliament

Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Maggie Sotyu and Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mathethwa at the Budget Vote in Parliament

The department of arts and culture continues to make great progress in unlocking the full potential of cultural and creative industries (CCIs) as a catalyst for socioeconomic transformation across all sectors of the South African economy.  Emboldened by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for renewal and change, the department is moving with greater determination to deliver an inclusive growth trajectory for the country by ensuring economic freedom for the majority of the people.

Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa believes that culture and the creative industries are powerful tools to achieve the ideals of the National Democratic Revolution, which prioritises poverty alleviation, sustainable jobs, eradicating inequalities, and upgrading people’s skills and capabilities in order to enable inclusive development.

In 2016, Mthethwa said that the GDP contribution of CCIs was estimated at R63.385-billion, which represents around 1.7% of the total GDP. This percentage increases nominally to 5.7% (R233 billion) if the multiplier effect is factored into the equation. In 2015 cultural occupations made up 2.52% of jobs in South Africa in both cultural and non-cultural industries.

Including non-cultural support occupations, CCIs employed 4.2%. Altogether, the creative economy accounts for 6.72% of all jobs in South Africa.

One example in action was by Mthethwa to strengthen the Mzansi Golden Economy Fund in order to streamline access to finance by artists and arts organisations for the sustainability of their livelihoods.

Another is the engagement with the different structures and individuals such as crafters, and the National Dance and Theatre Steering Committee, to ensure prompt service to these art genres. The department is involved in communities across the country in projects, including the revamp of multipurpose centre to include arts.

The budget allocated to the department for 2018/19 is a staggering R4.5-billion and is projected to be R4.8-billion in 2019/20. Some of the highlights include an allocation of R1.2-billion for the promotion of arts, culture and development and R2.5-billion for heritage promotion and preservation.

Mthethwa adds that the Cultural Events workstream supported 119 projects through-out the country to the total value of R40-million in the year under review. He added that the Touring Ventures programme supported 78 projects across the country with R26-million.  The department has identified new flagship projects that will diversify the previous outlook — which consisted largely of festivals — to include new projects in books, fashion and other sectors. The department, he says, will continue to support provincial initiatives to the value of R36-million.

Laying out his vision for nation building and social cohesion, Mthethwa emphasised that racism has no place in South Africa and efforts were progressing well to criminalise and eliminate it.

The department is taking its leadership role in the Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) across South Africa very seriously. A staggering R3.5-million has been allocated for the financial year to bolster the efforts of the MRM to ensure that values of social cohesion and nation building are instilled in the youth.

The movement has two patrons in Deputy President David Mabuza and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. Mthethwa highlighted that the national symbols of the country should remain central to the promotion of patriotism. “In this regard, the department has printed the Passport of Patriotism booklet to educate our people about national identity. The continuous distribution of the booklet is about speeding up the programme to heighten awareness and consciousness,” he said.

Mthethwa congratulated Ladysmith Black Mambazo for their 5th Grammy Award, which is supported by 18 Grammy Awards nominations. He described the feat as hoisting South Africa’s flag high in the global stage.

In the budget breakdown presented recently in Parliament, Deputy Arts Minister Maggie Sotyu indicated that youth empowerment, cultural tolerance, diversity and co-existence among South Africans is a priority focus for the department. Some highlights include placing 79 interns in the department, with a further 24 earmarked for the current financial year. School visits were conducted as part of the annual archives week, oral history programme and back-to-school campaigns. Sotyu added that archiving was also given priority to allow communities unfettered access to archival buildings, functions and services.

“We are happy to announce that, these sound recordings of the Rivonia Trial are now available for listening on the National Archives Website (www.nationalarchives.gov.za),” she said. The department also acknowledged the support and guidance of the Parliamentary Portfolio and Select Committees of Arts and Culture in their oversight function.

Mthethwa explains that the Cultural Development branch is central in the transformation of the arts and culture sector known as the Cultural and Creative Industry: “The organisations in this industry are concentrated in three provinces, namely, Gauteng, Western Cape and KZN. Equally, the same trend holds for sector companies in these provinces whose ownership is mainly white. There are about 2 400 companies in the cultural and creative industry, whose ownership in these three provinces is white,” he says.

Mthethwa says improved access to funding has also shaped ownership patterns, whereby in many rural areas, black ownership of businesses is above 50%. While Afrikaans films generate some R16-million annually, there were still challenges in other demographics due to, among other things, challenges in content development, costs of production, lack of highly skilled personnel and the demands of technology.

“The department has commissioned research to establish our own Sollywood. Creating short films and documentaries is critical for honing the skills of new filmmakers. Proper financing models and distribution will ensure that audiences become more developed. The use of modern technology is crucial for reducing costs, and thus a good tool for exposing local content to broader society, and development of our own content.”

Notable achievements

Draft National Policy on Library and Information Services completed and awaits the approval of relevant clusters and Cabinet;

  • With an allocation of R4.7-billion, 29 new libraries were constructed and 45 are to be revamped;
  • The national flag has been hoisted in 80% of our schools and great progress has been made in educational protocols on handling of national flags;
  • Cultural diplomacy has been strengthened through the Cultural Seasons programmes. Since 2012, the success of this initiative has been punctuated by a shift of focus from European countries to the Brics countries and the African continent;
  • The incubation programme benefited 2 961 young artists;
  • Great progress on the Legends Legacy Trust Endowment Fund;
  • Great progress in establishing the The Publishing House, which promotes the culture of writing and reading, and literary development;
  • Successful hosting of the SADC Ministerial Roundtable discussion focusing on the history of resistance and liberation.