Arts and Culture

A large proportion of the Department of Arts and Culture’s budget is dedicated to supporting and developing institutional infrastructure to showcase, restore and preserve South Africa’s heritage for future generations.

Arts and culture initiatives

Investing in Culture
Investing in Culture is the department’s flagship programme to eradicate poverty, providing the necessary skills to enable people to assume greater responsibility for their future.

The Investing in Culture Programme aims to provide access to skills and markets as a tool for urban regeneration, rural development and job creation.

Since 2005, through this programme, the Department of Arts and Culture has funded and supported 394 projects totalling R200 million. The programme created 7 374 jobs and training opportunities, of whom 45% of the beneficiaries were women, 39% youth and 4% were people with disabilities.

Three of the department’s Investing in Culture projects have won the Sowetan-Old Mutual Community Builder of the Year Awards. The projects are the Ndhengeza Xizambani Community Project, Kopanang Community Project and Tinghwazi Arts and Crafts, based at rural communities in the Mopani District Municipality, Limpopo.

Other initiatives include:

  • Indigenous Music and Oral History Project
  • Heritage Month celebrations
  • Mosadi wa Konokono (Woman of Substance)
  • Youth in Arts
  • Artists in School Project
  • Art in Correctional Facilities Programme

Legacy projects
Monuments, museums, plaques, outdoor art, heritage trails and other symbolic representations create visible reminders of, and commemorate, the many aspects of South Africa’s past. Government has initiated several national legacy projects to establish commemorative symbols of South Africa’s history and celebrate its heritage.

The legacy projects include the:

  • Women’s Monument
  • Chief Albert Luthuli’s house in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal
  • Battle of Blood River/Ncome Project
  • Samora Machel Project
  • Nelson Mandela Museum
  • Constitution Hill Project
  • Sarah Baartman National Heritage Site and Human Rights Memorial
  • Khoisan Legacy Project
  • Freedom Park Project

Other projects underway are the 1981 Matola Raid Memorial in Maputo, Mozambique; the rehabilitation and development of the Lock Street women’s prison in East London into a museum; the development of the former apartheid state security site Vlakplaas into a heritage memorial site; and the OR Tambo Memorial Project in Bizana in the Eastern Cape.

Arts and culture organisations
The following organisations play an active role in preserving and promoting South Africa’s arts and culture:

  • National Heritage Council
  • South African Heritage Resources Agency
  • South African Geographical Names Council
  • National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC)
  • Arts institutions such as the State Theatre in Pretoria, Playhouse Company in Durban, Artscape in Cape Town, Market Theatre in Johannesburg, Performing Arts Centre of the Free State in Bloemfontein and the Windybrow Theatre in Johannesburg
  • Business and Arts South Africa
  • Arts and Culture Trust

Cultural industries

The Cultural Industries Growth Strategy capitalises on the economic potential of the craft, music, film, publishing and design industries.

The Department of Arts and Culture provides support in the form of financing, management capacity, advocacy and networking by developing public-private partnerships and other initiatives that use culture as a tool for urban regeneration.

Worldwide, the turnover of cultural industries make this sector the fifth-largest economic sector, comprising design, performing arts, dance, film, television, multimedia, cultural heritage, cultural tourism, visual arts, crafts, music and publishing.

Cultural tourism
Cultural festivals, African-cuisine projects, cultural villages, heritage routes and story-telling are areas that can benefit from South Africa’s booming tourism industry.

Arts festivals
The Department of Arts and Culture provides financial support to various arts and culture festivals.

The National Arts Festival, held annually in July in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, is one of the largest and most diverse arts gatherings in Africa.

In 2009 and 2010, the festival will be extended to cater for soccer fans visiting the Eastern Cape for the Confederations Cup and the Soccer World Cup.

Other major festivals are held in Oudtshoorn, Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Potchefstroom and Bloemfontein.

South African theatre is internationally acclaimed as being unique and of top quality.

The theatre scene in South Africa is vibrant, with many active spaces across the country offering everything from indigenous drama, music, dance, cabaret and satire, to West End and Broadway hits, classical music, opera and ballet.

While local music styles such as South African jazz have influenced African and world music for decades, gospel and kwaito are the most popular and most recorded styles today.

Kwaito combines elements of rap, reggae, hip-hop and other styles into a distinctly South African sound.

The NAC is responsible for funding the KwaZulu-Natal , Cape and Gauteng orchestras as well as the Cape Town Jazz Orchestra.

Contemporary work ranges from normal preconceptions of movement and performance art or performance theatre, to the completely unconventional. Added to this is the African experience, which includes traditional dance inspired by wedding ceremonies, battles, rituals and everyday life.

The Dance Factory in Johannesburg provides a permanent platform for all kinds of dance and movement groups, while the Wits (University) Theatre is home to the annual Dance Umbrella, a showcase for new work.

The Cape Town City Ballet is the oldest ballet company in the country.

Visual arts
South Africa has a range of art galleries that showcase collections of indigenous, historical and contemporary works.

Universities also play an important role in acquiring artwork of national interest. These include, among other things, collections housed in the Gertrude Posel Gallery of the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of South Africa Gallery in Pretoria, the Eduardo Villa Museum and other galleries at the University of Pretoria and a collection of contemporary Indian art at the University of Durban-Westville.

The Department of Arts and Culture is supporting women in the area of visual arts. In August 2008, it awarded female artists for excellence in this field. There was also an exhibition by women at Museum Africa.

The Department of Arts and Culture will be embarking on a audit of the visual arts sector to identify areas for skills training, job creation and policy development.

The Visual Century Project, conceived by the South African born CEO of the National Arts Gallery in Oslo, Norway, is undertaking research on the visual arts in South Africa over the last century. The project will involve exhibitions at all major galleries, publications and documentary films.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa’s craft subsector alone contributes about R2 billion or 0,14% to South Africa’s gross domestic product annually, providing jobs and income for around 38 000 people through at least 7 000 small enterprises.

The South African craft sector is developing in leaps and bounds, clearly defining its positioning as an important second economy. Its growth areas largely create jobs and opportunities for rural and inner-city urban women in South Africa.

The Annual Beautiful Things Craft Supermarket continues to provide market access for this young industry. The Department of Arts and Culture Craft Emporium and retail outlets will provide yet another platform for craft development.

Film production is actively supported by government; just one initiative is the Location Film and Television Scheme introduced by the Department of Trade and Industry.

South Africa offers foreign producers world-class film facilitation, logistics, talent and administration-management services.

Television production accounts for more than a third of total film/television revenue, with local-content quotas increasing the demand for programming.

The National Film and Video Foundation develops and promotes the film and video industry in South Africa. It is also involved in the development of projects that appeal to targeted audiences and have greater commercial returns. The foundation disburses grants for developing and producing feature films, short films, television series, documentaries and animation projects, as well as bursaries for students from other countries. This ensures a South African presence at major local and international film markets, festivals and exhibitions.

South Africa has a rich and vibrant literary heritage and its writers are recognised and celebrated over the world. South Africa is the only country in sub-saharan Africa to boast two laureates for literature, namely JM Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer.

The net turnover of the book sector was estimated at about R5 billion in 2007. This included about R3,2 billion earned through publishing and R1,8 billion from book sales.

The new pop culture in poetry, often referred to as “spokenword poetry”, is one of the most celebrated art forms throughout the country and beyond. Poets such as Lesego Rampolokeng, Lebogang Mashile, Kgafela oa Magogodi, Blaq Pearl, Jessica Mbangeni and Mark Manaka are household names in the genre.

There are regular platforms created to give these poets opportunities to hone their skills.

The current generation of writers is also making its mark on the world stage, with writers such as Zakes Mda, Niq Mhlongo and the late K Sello Duiker having their novels translated into languages such as Dutch, German and Spanish. The youngest winner of the Noma Award, the most coveted literary award on the continent, is Lebogang Mashile, a vibrant South African poetess. A young writer from KwaZulu-Natal, John van der Ruit, debuted with Spud in 2005, a novel that sold more than 130 000 copies in less than three years, thus breaking all records for a South African novel.

The Department of Arts and Culture has launched the Indigenous Literature Publishing Project, aimed at producing a series of publications in different languages, by writers from different backgrounds across South Africa. This project aims to stimulate the growth and development of literature in indigenous languages and generate new readerships.

The National Library of South Africa (NLSA) has been tasked with republishing out-of-print African-language classics by exploring the creation of partnerships with private companies.

More than 300 of the approximately 1 000 museums in Africa are in South Africa. The Department of Arts and Culture subsidises most museums, which are otherwise autonomous.

The department pays an annual subsidy to 13 national museums, ensuring the preservation of artefacts and collections that are important to all South Africans.

National Library of South Africa
The Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Pallo Jordan, unveiled the new home for the NLSA on 1 August 2008, in Pretoria. Some R300 million was spent on the new building, which seats 1 300. The building covers 33 000m2.