Stakeholders in Arts Sector unite

Pretoria - Key role players in the arts, culture and heritage industry have pledged to work collectively to identify and develop talent and raise levels of quality even higher.

The stakeholders - including government representatives, business, labour and civil society, managers and practitioners in the arts, culture and heritage sectors - made the commitment during a two-day National Consultative Summit on the Cultural and Creative Industry, held in the Newtown Cultural Precinct on 14 -15 April.

During the summit, held under the theme 'Mzansi's Golden Economy', the stakeholders acknowledged that their industry was of immeasurable value, and that government, together with society at large, had a responsibility to conserve, protect, transmit and present culture and heritage.

South Africa's natural heritage, measured by the value of ecotourism, contributes R 21 billion per annum to the economy.

The music industry was worth around R1.7 billion in sales and ranked 17th in the world in 2007. The craft sector contributes R1.1 billion annually to GDP and employs approximately 38 062 people.

The visual arts sector has a turnover of nearly R2 billion and gross value added of R 1 billion per annum. There are an estimated 17 700 people working in the sector.

The total net turnover of the book publishing industry in 2007 was estimated to be worth R3.2 billion, with 13 769 authors and 818 other entities having received royalties.

The film industry generates over R5.5 billion in economic activity annually and employs an estimated 30 000 people. The gross advertising revenue for the broadcasting industry was close to R8.5 billion in 2006.

"Our culture and heritage is key to nation building and social cohesion, and these are the ingredients for creating a climate of social stability and economic growth. The creative economy in South Africa has the potential to be a leading sector in generating economic growth, employment and trade, as is the case in many advanced economies," read the conference declaration.

The stakeholders committed themselves to working collectively in task teams to coordinate and optimise funding opportunities, including a small grants programme implemented through an agreed funding model by different institutions, to incentivise performance in all areas of the creative and cultural industries.

They further pledged to:

· facilitate the expansion and growth of existing initiatives in the cultural and creative industries to create large scale and high impact programmes;
· better co-ordinate supply and demand in the sector;
· enhance existing production and create new business opportunities to match demand; and
· monitor and evaluate the performance of the sector to guide policy development, strategic direction and allocation of resources to the sector.

During the opening of the summit, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile told delegates that in the implementation of the New Growth Path, Cabinet had identified this industry as one of the drivers of economic growth and prosperity.

"We are here to craft a new path for the arts that requires that we fundamentally change the way we do things. In many advanced economies, the creative economy is now recognised as a leading sector in generating economic growth, employment and trade," Mashatile said.

- BuaNews