South African Cultural Observatory
SACO Conference 2022

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About the South African Cultural Observatory

Initiated by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture through the Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy (2011), the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) is a statistical and socio-economic research project charts the socio-economic impact of the arts, culture and heritage (ACH) sectors and the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) in South Africa.

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Covid-19 Impact Survey Report on CCIs

An early assessment

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South African Cultural Observatory

The South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) is a national statistical and socio-economic research project, established by the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture, with the purpose of developing a comprehensive cultural information system in South Africa. The South African Cultural Observatory is hosted by and based at the Nelson Mandela University, and co-hosted in partnership with Rhodes University the University of Fort Hare and the University of Kwazulu-Natal. The primary cultural domains, as idenitifed by UNESCO, such as arts, tourism, heritage, libraries and museums, are the main research focus of the SACO and such research will support the development of intellectual capacity across these sectors.

The key functions of the South African Cultural Observatory include the following:

  • Policy focused research (surveys, case studies)
  • Reviews of current programmes
  • M&E – impact of government spending
  • Collection of statistics (databases)
  • Physical and Online access
  • Networking, sharing, partnerships

Executive Direction - From the desk of...

Executive Direction - September 2022

As I pen this, I am beaming with excitement. After a four-year-long wait, the 4th SACO International Conference 2022 is finally here. We are literally a few weeks away from the much-anticipated SACO International Conference that so many in the industry have kept asking me about.


Latest News

UNCTAD to Host Africa Launch of Report at the 4th SACO International Conference

The United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will host the Africa launch of its new Creative Economy Outlook and Report 2022 at the conference.

SACO Announces an Exciting Line-Up of International and Local Speakers

The South African Cultural Observatory announces an exciting line-up of international speakers for the upcoming 4th SACO International Conference. The conference has attracted leading minds and experts working in and across the cultural and creative economy on the African continent, in Europe, Australia and the Americas.

UN honours SA arts and culture researcher as one of world’s 'most influential people of African descent'

SA Cultural Observatory executive director Unathi Lutshaba was recognised by the UN as one of the global Top 100 under 40 Most Influential People of African Descent.

Durban visual artist Mondli Mbhele wins 2022 Sasol New Signatures

Full-time artist Mondli Mbhele from Durban was announced as the winner of the 2022 Sasol New Signatures Art Competition. With the win he walks away with a cash prize of R100 000 and an opportunity to have a solo exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum in 2023.

A Spotlight on 4th SACO International Conference

In our previous editions this section has been dedicated to key highlights from our recent reports with a view to providing insights on some of the main issues facing the cultural and creative industries (CCIs).

SACO hears industry plea – extends conference abstract submission deadline

The deadline for the call for abstracts, papers and presentations has been extended to 9 September 2022.

Word from DAC

Mitigation plans to minimize the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the Sport, Arts and Culture sector

Statement by Minister Nathi Mthethwa on mitigation plans to minimize the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Sport, Arts and Culture sector.


The 360: News from around the world

Call for applications: Relief fund for jazz musicians in South Africa

Switzerland-based Levedo Foundation, in partnership with Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, is calling on all professional jazz musicians based in South Africa to apply for its short-term relief fund.


Open Source: Latest research for download

EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market

COPYRIGHT is a big issue in the digital age. The copyright debate is raging largely between the European Union (EU) and the big technology giants. EU lawmakers have been working for two years on proposed legislation aimed at updating copyright for the digital age.


Progress Report: Updates on CO achievements

The SA Cultural Observatory -  Measuring and Valuing SA’s Cultural And Creative Industries

The South African Cultural Observatory was established to undertake economic research for the cultural and creative industries in South Africa. The kind research we conduct provides such information as to the economic size of the sector, number of jobs in the sector or transformation. We publish the reports on our website and in various media platforms, including this newsletter, with a view to empower industry stakeholders with information that we hope they will find useful, informative and can be relied upon when making decisions that affect the sector.


More News
Strong call for creative economy re-set amid COVID-19 fallout for industry Strong call for creative economy re-set amid COVID-19 fallout for industry

The creative industries carried us through the darkest days of the COVID-19 crisis through music, film, literature, craft and more. But the long-term impact of the pandemic – prolonged closures and lack of social security – has hit the world’s creatives hardest, as the most precarious and vulnerable of workers.

National Arts Festival Back in Face-to-Face mode National Arts Festival Back in Face-to-Face mode

As you read this the final cultural shows of National Arts Festival are possibly on stage in Makhanda. The National Arts Festival came back in a face-to-face format for the first time in two years.

ABSA opens new art gallery ABSA opens new art gallery

Absa has opened a new art gallery in the piazza of Towers Main in Johannesburg central business district as of May 2022. The Absa Art Gallery officially opened its doors with the first exhibition titled Voices: Past and Present.

James Ngcobo joins Joburg City Theatres James Ngcobo joins Joburg City Theatres

The award-winning actor and director James Ngcobo has joined Joburg City Theatres (JCT) as an artistic director. Ngcobo who was with the Market Theatre Foundation for nine years joins the JCT as of July 1 and will be responsible for developing and implementing an artistic vision for organisation’s 10 spaces.

Report Highlights Report Highlights

In this edition we highlight key findings from our recent reports. The reports are: a chapter from the Mapping Study that gives the provincial profile of the cultural and creative industry and the South African’s Animation Industry: Ecosystem Analysis.

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Sport, arts & culture NNMU University of Fort Hare Rhodes University University of KwaZulu-Natal