SA's cultural industry has potential to create jobs

Monday, April 4, 2011
Nthambeleni Gabara

Johannesburg - South Africa's cultural and creative industry is a good revenue generator, and still has great potential to produce more and contribute to job creation, says Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile.

He was speaking on Monday in Johannesburg, unveiling this year's Freedom month programme. 

"Research in many parts of the world such as Canada, the United Kingdom and India, shows that the cultural and creative industries are a major economic contributor to economic growth and job creation. 

"In line with this international trend, there is also growing consensus in our country that the cultural and creative industries are a significant contributor to economic growth and job creation," he said. 

At its February Lekgotla, Cabinet also identified the cultural and creative industries as one of the drivers of economic growth and job creation. 

The craft sector alone contributes more than R2 billion to the country's Gross Domestic Product. The sector also provides jobs and income for approximately 38 000 people through an estimated 7 000 small enterprises. 

Mashatile said his department has planned a number of activities to be rolled out throughout April as part of Freedom Month celebrations. Activities will include social cohesion dialogues to be held in Tshwane, a wreath laying ceremony at the Solomon Mahlangu Memorial Square and a commemorative rally in Moretele Park. 

The activities will culminate in the National Freedom Day celebrations to be held at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday, April 27. This event will be addressed by President Jacob Zuma and will include a full military parade and a cultural programme, celebrating the country's diversity. 

The theme for this year's celebrations is "Working together to unite the nation, promote democracy and protect freedom".

"We will be celebrating the progress we are making in building a national democratic society, a society that is united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous. As part of promoting democracy and protecting freedom, we urge all South Africans to participate in the local government elections to be held next month," said Mashatile. 

Regarding his plan to reposition the arts, culture and heritage sector, Mashatile said: "We don't want to give you the details today as we've planned expand more on our strategy during the national summit on cultural and creative industries later this month."

The two-day national summit will be held in the Newton Cultural Precinct in Johannesburg on 14 -15 April. 

"Out of this summit, we hope to emerge with a number of resolutions that we will implement collectively with our stakeholders with a view to strengthen the contribution of the creative and cultural industries in the economy," said the minister. 

Mashatile said he had already appointed a team to draft a strategy on how to unleash the potential of the cultural and creative industries to contribute to economic growth and job creation. 

"After a process of consultation with our agencies and provincial Departments of Arts and Culture, we are delighted to announce that the strategy is now ready to be presented to all our stakeholders," he said. 

The strategy will also spell out how the sector will contribute to the national effort to create five million jobs within the next 10 years as outlined in the New Growth Path. 

Linked to the developed strategy is the proposed establishment of the National Skills Academy for the arts industry. 

The academy is envisaged to coordinate and integrate the various arts and training initiatives in the country. Mashatile said it will strengthen efforts to build the necessary skills base required to ensure sustainability of the sector. 

"The academy will become the 'Centre of Excellence' responsible for producing the best in our country that are capable of competing successfully on the world stage. The establishment of the academy will require that we work with other national departments and provinces," he said. - BuaNews

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