Creative industries must help economy, job creation: Mashatile

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Johannesburg - The arts, culture and heritage sector has a key role to play in South Africa's economy and creating jobs, says Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile.

Addressing a conference titled Manzi's Golden Economy - where the contribution of the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector to the New Growth Path is being discussed - Mashatile said these industries should take centre stage in achieving the goals of the growth path.

"Through this summit, we wish to collectively place the cultural and creative industries at the forefront of our national priorities. From now on, the arts, culture and heritage sector will take its rightful place; at the core of the national effort to build a socially inclusive society and to contribute to economic growth and job creation," he said.

The minister noted that Cabinet had identified the creative and cultural industries as a sector that would be one of the drivers of economic growth and job creation in the implementation of the New Growth Path.

He called on the conference to come up with a clear plan, which could be taken to Cabinet, on how the sector could make a contribution to the national effort to grow the economy and create employment.

The plan should also guide the work stakeholders in the industry did to reposition the sector, Mashatile said.

In order to achieve this, the work that has already been done in the sector needed to be improved and built on, while learning lessons from other countries.

"In particular, we must continue to draw lessons from countries such as China, India, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Italy; where this sector has proven its worth as a 'golden economy'; capable of driving growth and job creation. 

"We must use these examples to develop our own approaches that take into account our unique conditions," he said.

South Africa needed to take full advantage of its eight World Heritage Sites by using it to promote tourism, economic growth and job creation, Mashatile said.

He called on the sector to continue telling the story of South Africa's liberation struggle and the story of the "South African miracle", saying they needed to be told to current and future generations, locally and internationally.

"It is these stories that form the core of who we are as a nation, that are part of our heritage that we must continue to tell through films, documentaries, books, theatre performances and other artistic forms of expression.

"As we tell these stories to ourselves and the world, our artists will have an opportunity to build for themselves sustainable livelihoods," he said.

It was in this context that a proposal had been submitted to Cabinet for the establishment of a National Liberation Heritage Route, the minister added.

The route would serve as a monument, telling the story of the many sacrifices and struggles by generations of freedom fighters both inside South Africa and outside the country, he said.

Mashatile also noted the importance developing the necessary skills base required to sustain the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector.

"In this regard this Summit must consider the proposal we are putting forward for the establishment of a National Skills Academy for the Arts. This initiative is aimed at addressing the supply side gaps experienced in the sector. The initiative will also lay the foundation for the sustainability of the sector."

He also called on arts and culture to receive more attention at school level.
Economic Development Deputy Minister Enoch Godongwana said the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector was setting the pace of other sectors with regards to the New Growth Path.

He called the sector to place major focus on creating jobs for the youth because unemployment among the youth was particularly high. - BuaNews