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08 April 2011

Media Statement for Freedom Month (April) 2011 by Minister Paul Mashatile

Media statement by Mr Paul Mashatile, Minister of Arts and Culture, Johannesburg

4 April 2011

FREEDOM MONTH

This month marks the 17th year of our freedom. On the 27 April 2011 we shall celebrate our collective achievements of sustained peace, unity, the restoration of human dignity to all South Africans and an inclusive citizenship based on the principles of non-racialism, non-sexism and democracy. In the past 17 years we have worked together to deepen this democracy and indeed this year as we prepare for local government elections let us be proud of what we have accomplished together.

The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Working together to unite the nation, promote democracy and protect freedom.” This theme is a reminder of the sacrifices of our people in the struggle for a free and just South Africa. We call upon all South Africans to put their differences aside and to work together to build this country – united as we are, even in our diversity. We can only protect freedom if we do so together conscious of our hard-won rights and eager to entrench this freedom and to ensure that the gains also become sustained social, economic and cultural development for all our people.

Government calls on all South African to join in celebrating National Freedom Day at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday 27 April 2011 (full details of activities planned for the month are in your pack). This event will be addressed by President Jacob Zuma and will also include a full military parade and a cultural programme.

Government also reaffirms its commitment to consolidate democracy and promote cultural diversity and social cohesion in South Africa. We celebrate the fact that we live in a system that guarantees that never again will our humanity be taken away, irrespective of race, gender, creed or sexual orientation.

We have reached this point in our history through collective will and action, through hard work and sacrifice, through national creativity and through innovation. We can be proud that we are a people with a strong sense of self-worth and a national identity that enables us to be active agents of change.

As Government we continue to play a critical role in promoting social cohesion, nation building and building civic pride – all of these contribute towards the building of a national democratic society.

We have embarked on the Magnificent Friday initiative aimed at mobilising all South Africans behind our national netball team, the cricket team and the rugby team.

We are also initiating Community conversations led by Provinces on how to build a more caring society characterised by social cohesion. These provincial gatherings will culminate in the National Summit of Social Cohesion to be held in the second half of this year.

We call on all South Africans to exercise their right and responsibility topromote democracy and protect freedom by participating at the municipal elections later this year. We all have a responsibility to continue working together to build our country. Elections are a crucial element of democracy and it is the responsibility of all eligible persons to go and vote. All of us have to oblige by and respect the rules of the election period to ensure that we continue having free and fair elections. Let us work together to unite the nation, promote democracy and protect freedom.

THE ARTS AND CULTURE MANDATE

The Department of Arts and Culture is tasked with the responsibility to develop and preserve South Africa’s culture, to ensure social cohesion and to nation-building.

One of the critical areas of focus for the Department as it delivers on its mandate is to unleash the potential of the arts, culture and heritage sector to contribute to economic growth and job creation. This is particularly important in light of the recent pronouncement by President Zuma in the State of the Nation Address that the primary focus of the work of government during this period is on job creation.

It is also our view that the arts, culture and heritage sector has a meaningful contribution to make towards the achievement of the goals of the New Growth Path; specifically the creation of 5 million jobs within the next ten years.

THE ROLE OF ARTS, CULTURE AND HERITAGE IN THE ECONOMY AND IN JOB CREATION

Research in many parts of the world, including in countries such as Canada, United Kingdom and India, shows that the cultural and creative industries is a major contributor to economic growth and job creation. This has earned the sector the title of being referred to as the “Golden economy”.

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.

At its February Lekgotla, Cabinet identified the cultural and creative industries as one of the sectors that can contribute to the objectives of the New Growth Path; especially the creation of new jobs.

As the President indicated during the State of the Nation Address; the craft sector alone contributes more that R 2 billion to our country’s Gross Domestic Product. In addition this sector provides jobs and income for approximately 38 000 people through an estimated 7 000 small enterprises. (Source: DTI).

We estimate that Technical Services, which include stage construction, lighting and sound engineering, are worth R7 billion per annum.

Last year a research report indicated that the Cape Town International Festival contributed more than R475 million to the economy of Cape Town and created a total of 2 000 jobs. Judging from this year’s attendance and enthusiasm, I have no doubt that even these figures will be surpassed.

These (preliminary) numbers point to the vast potential of the Golden economy in South Africa.

Yet the sector generally is not considered to be visible and there is a need for the research in the sector to be collated and analysed to provide an accurate picture of the whole sector and the contribution it makes to our national life.

Overlapping functions between role players need to be addressed as soon as possible. It is necessary that a unified framework be adopted and our priority is large scale interventions that can make a difference on a mass scale.

It is for this reason that in November this year I appointed a creative 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 at a National Summit on the Cultural and Creative Industries to be held from the 14th to the 15th of April this year, at the Newton Cultural Precinct in Johannesburg.

Together with our Agencies, National Departments, Provincial and Local Government and key stakeholders we shall look at new potential interventions that facilitate employment creation on a large scale.

Out of this Summit we hope to emerge with a number of resolutions that we will implement collectively with all stakeholders in the sector with a view to strengthen the contribution of the creative and cultural industries in the economy.

Most importantly this Strategy will spell out in detail how the sector will contribute to the national effort to create 5 million jobs within the next ten years as outlined in the New Growth Path. Clearly, the arts and culture sector is an emerging economic contributor, a golden economy waiting to shine!

Our task is to nurture new enterprises in the cultural and creative industries as well as drive the expansion of existing initiatives.

Today I shall highlight some of the key areas in which we intend making a major impact. These are some of the areas that we shall present to the Conference for discussion:

CULTURAL PRECINCTS AND EVENTS

We would like to establish nationally supported cultural precincts. We are already in dialogue with the provinces about the location of such areas of culture and the feasibility of implementing them.

Linkages can be made between historical sites, monuments, museums and theatre complexes so that audiences and patrons are attracted to the widest and most diverse possible offerings of the arts, culture and heritage sector.

DEVELOPMENT OF ARTS AND CULTURAL PRODUCT HUBS

We propose the establishment of arts and cultural product hubs offering as many categories of products as possible.

The sites for these hubs would encourage patronage, extend geographical spread and association to important cultural, archaeological and historical sites. We shall be mindful of the rural development priority of government as we undertake this task.

IMPLEMENTATION OF NATIONAL HERITAGE LEGACY PROJECTS

Good work has been done by the Department in partnership with the National Heritage Council on the National Heritage Liberation Route. Just last week I was invited to speak at the Gauteng Liberation Heritage Route conference. which is part of the consultative processes, done by the Council to encourage public participation in this initiative.

These projects highlight liberation history and ensure that this rich heritage is preserved and is accessible to all. Some of the legacy projects include Constitutional Hill, Freedom Park, Robben Island, Luthuli Museum, Mandela Museum and so forth.

The full realisation of these projects could have a social and economic impact on the communities in which they reside.

ESTABLISHMENT OF A SOURCING INSTITUTION

In our country, there is a need for access by arts and culture practitioners to markets in which they can sell their products and thus earning a decent living from their talents.

Therefore we propose that an institution be established to complement existing informal and small scale sourcing of products and services that is currently taking place.

This new institution would source out products, activities and experiences for dissemination and distribution to audiences in towns and cities throughout the country.

This institution would also establish an inventory of all the sources of products, activities and experience that would allow for a wider choice for both international and domestic consumers.

In our view, this would lead to an increase in demand as a result of the increased choice, thus bringing more economic benefit to artists.

ART BANK

It is proposed that an umbrella fund which we shall coin an ‘Art Bank’ be re-established as a funded commercial venture to receive earmarked funding for qualifying projects. Together with the Deputy Minister, I would like to meet the business community to solicit support for this proposal.

NATIONAL SKILLS ACADEMY

Also linked to the development of the strategy, is the establishment of the National Skills Academy for the Arts. The Academy will coordinate and integrate the various arts training initiatives in the country.

It will become a “Center of Excellence” responsible for producing the best in our country that are capable of competing successfully on the world stage. This is our long term strategy and for this we need to work with other National Departments.

We are collaborating with the Department of Basic Education to include in the curriculum, visual arts and aspects of drama including providing learners a chance to learn to play a musical instrument.

We are engaging with the Department of Higher Education to ensure co-ordination and collaboration in all institutions in the arts, culture and heritage education sector.

EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH EMPLOYMENT AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

We intend adopting a programmatic approach to youth employment including increasing access to bursaries and internships.

Already we have made some progress in this regard with R9 million allocated for skills development in the heritage sector.

THE CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE

These are some of the key aspects of our new strategy that will come under discussion at this consultative event. The main aim is to create synergies and to rationalise and clarify roles so that government in partnership with the sector can move ahead with great clarity and precision. We invite your participation in this repositioning of the role of the arts, culture and heritage sector.

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