Creative and cultural industries under the spotlight at national conference

APRIL 26, 2016

The impact of the creative and cultural industries – both as drivers of economic growth and job creation, and nation-building and social cohesion – takes centre stage at the inaugural conference of the South African Cultural Observatory in Nelson Mandela Bay next month.

Under the banner “Counting Culture”, the conference will highlight the growing influence of a sector – spanning visual and performing arts, heritage and museums, festivals, architecture, advertising, design and digital media – that is becoming globally recognised for its economic power.

The conference will introduce the South African Cultural Observatory – a new national public research institute of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC).

Cultural Observatory chief executive, Prof Richard Haines, said the conference was essentially populist, even though it emerges from academia and the necessity of research. “Insights from the sector are needed from people on the ground, living and breathing work done in the creative and cultural industries – it is from these practitioners that our evidence-based work will emerge.”

He said cultural and creative practitioners, professionals and academics, thought-leaders, sponsors and organisers would debate policy, research and practice in measuring and mapping the creative and cultural industries, at The Boardwalk Convention Centre in Port Elizabeth from 16 to 17 May.

“Through presentation of research, policy analysis and lived experience, the conference aims to facilitate forward-looking discussions and contribute to current and emerging networks of interest in the creative and cultural domains.

“Along with the leadership of DAC, we have attracted some high-profile and influential local, African and international delegates who will be contributing in presentations and panel discussions, and no doubt adding great value to our thinking on how the Observatory can support the socio-economic potential of culture and creativity in South Africa,” Haines said.

“Cultural Times”, the recently-released first global map of the cultural and creative industries by Ernst and Young, estimates that they generate US$250-billion in revenue annually, and account for 29.5-million jobs worldwide, Cultural Observatory’s chief research strategist and Rhodes University economics lecturer Prof Jen Snowball, said.

Locally, she said the first study of the impact of the creative and cultural industries in 2014 showed that these sectors employed up to 200 000 people and contributed almost 3% to South Africa’s GDP.

“Undeniably, culture and creativity have been the cement that binds together not only hearts and souls, but entire societies and nations.  Now there is also growing international interest in their potential to drive sustainable development and create inclusive job opportunities,” Snowball said.

International contributions will come from Guy Saez, founder of the Grenoble Observatory, considered a global leader in cultural observatory work; Canada Arts Council manager for research, evaluation and performance measurement Gabriel Zamfir; Norbert Spitz, Regional Director for Sub-Saharan-Africa of the Goethe Institute.

To register for the conference online, go to www.saco2016.co.za or contact conference organiser Salome Clack: email [email protected] or call 082 907 0954.

ImageSouth African Cultural Observatory CEO Prof Richard Haines at his head office in the Donkin Creative Quarter, is preparing for the organisation’s first national conference in Port Elizabeth from 16-17 May 2016. Role-players in the creative and cultural industries will consider the growing global economic impact of the sector, how to measure and grow its impact, and learn from African and international best practice. With speakers and participants from across the creative and cultural spectrum, including some top African and international practitioners, the conference will play a key role in setting the research agenda for the Cultural Observatory. The Observatory is a new national institute established by the Department of Arts and Culture, and hosted jointly by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), the University of Fort Hare and Rhodes University. The conference takes place at The Boardwalk International Convention Centre in Port Elizabeth.