South African Cultural Observatory
Should I Trade Internationally?

Export Awareness in the Art, Culture and Heritage Sectors

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About the South African Cultural Observatory

Initiated by the Department of 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 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 March 2021

The year 2021 started on a very bad note when the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic was devastatingly ruthless. It is difficult to find any family that has been spared or industry that has not experienced loss.


Latest News

Call for input: Mapping Study on Museum and Fashion Sectors

The French Embassy and French Institute in South Africa (IFAS) have initiated a mapping study of the creative and cultural industries in South Africa, with an initial focus on the museum and fashion sectors.

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

The SA Cultural Observatory was established primarily to undertake economic research for the cultural and creative industries. We publish our reports in various media platforms, including this newsletter, to benefit as many cultural practitioners as possible.

Industry Highlights

BASA, in partnership with the British Council, recently (24- 26 March) hosted an assembly where they discussed a number of issues that affect the creative industries.

Exporting Our Culture- Exploring International Markets for the CCIs

The creative industries are growing — and will continue to play an important role in the economy. The cultural and creative industries (CCIs) are one of the world’s most rapidly growing and increasingly important economic sectors.

International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021

Are you hosting an event, discussion, debate, conference or any other celebratory happening to mark the UN's 2021 International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development? Let us know about it and we will add it to our database of events happening throughout the year. Your event will also be logged in our report to the United Nations General Assembly.

Futures & Beyond - Where creativity & 4IR meet

UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA), in partnership with Andani.Africa, a creative industries research and insights company, proudly launches the inaugural Futures & Beyond Forum planned for 16 and 17 March 2021. The first of its kind in Africa, the Forum is a gathering of leading minds in the arts and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The Forum aims to start a conversation on the role of the creative industries in the continent’s future and the development of Africa-led strategies for creativity and innovation in technology.

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

SACO recognized and cited by the UNCTAD

The South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) was given a boost with last week’s release of the UN’s Creative Economy Outlook and Country Profile report, giving the institution a fitting recognition.


More News
Online Audience Survey Intro Online Audience Survey Intro

Many cultural organisations and events have moved online as a way of reaching audiences during COVID-19 lockdown- tell us how you experienced this shift.

A Highlight On Our Recently Published Reports: A Highlight On Our Recently Published Reports:

The SA Cultural Observatory continues to produce valuable reports that are aimed at empowering policy makers, decisions makers and the various industry stakeholders to make informed decisions on aspects that contribute in developing and growing the industry.

African Music Vol 11,2 now available online African Music Vol 11,2 now available online

For those interested in music from the African Continent, it is worth noting that the that the African Music Vol 11,2 is now available online. Many of the articles in this edition first saw the light of day as papers presented at the ICTM Study Group on African Musics, held in Accra in August 2018.

Dr Cynthia Khumalo’s Appointment to DSAC Benefits the Sector Dr Cynthia Khumalo’s Appointment to DSAC Benefits the Sector

In a year as difficult as 2020 has been for the cultural and creative industries, positive developments are to be highly welcomed. One such development is the successful recruitment of Dr Cynthia Ntombifuthi Khumalo to join the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.

Executive Direction December 2020 Executive Direction December 2020

As we close the year 2020, it is pretty difficult to decide as to where to start, what to talk about and what not to talk about. Just thinking about the year evokes and riles so many emotions at every level imaginable.

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