South African Cultural Observatory
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Research Agenda

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Upcoming SACO Workshops

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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 and the University of Fort Hare. 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

This year the International Women’s Day theme was #BalanceforBetter. It essentially talks to a balanced world being a better world.


Latest News

Thesis ZA- the duo that is making big waves

The Cape Town vocalist duo that makes Thesis ZA comprising Ondela Simakuhle and Ayanda Charlie made it into the final list of the Mail and Guardian 200 Young South Africans 2019.

Zandile Mzazi- one of SA’s best tradable talent

Eastern Cape has gifted the country and the arts and culture industry with the sensational soprano opera musician, Zandile Mzazi. Probably more widely known and celebrated abroad, Mzazi hails from a musical family in Elliot, and has performed to the A-list audiences across the globe.

A curator with an academic streak - Gabi Ngcobo

This month we celebrate Gabi Ngcobo, an independent curator, creative researcher and educator who was the curator of the tenth Berlin Biennale for contemporary art in Germany. Ngcobo, who teaches at the With School of Arts joined an illustrious list of past curators of the Berlin Biennale, among them Hans Ulrich Obrist and Ute Meta Bauer

AGE not detracting Dr Esther Mahlangu from her artistic exploits

At her advanced age (83), Dr Esther Mahlangu is still making a significant impact in the world of arts. She was last month bestowed with the award of Officier de L'Ordre Arts et Lettres (Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French ambassador to South Africa

Gifted Thandi Ntuli performs in the US

Thandi Ntuli could be described as one of the few young musicians barking the trend with her talent and love for the genre of music that is jazz. This is genre that is not so popular with young artists.

The Spirit of the Zwakala Festival rejuvenated

The 26th Zwakala Festival has been given a new lease on life with a vision that will reach out to more artists and audiences. The revamped Zwakala Festival is also more attractive to its funders, the Department of Arts & Culture, with whose support through the Arts Incubator Programme the Festival is being relaunched in an exciting new format.

Word from DAC

Minister Mthethwa Interaction with the Creative Industries

The creative and cultural economies are one of the fastest growing industries and should be at the centre of national strategic priority to unlock the wider socio- economic participation and inclusivity in the mainstream economy. The impact of commodity-dependent countries like South Africa has refocused attention on the urgency of economic diversification, revitalization and harnessing of human innovation in order to weather the economic storm.


The 360: News from around the world

World Conference on Creative Economy

INDONESIA is planning to hold the first ever “World Conference on Creative Economy” (WCCE), involving stakeholders and representatives from governments, private sectors, think-tanks, civil society, international organizations, as well as media and experts in the creative economy.


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
Renown South African artist and designer Carrol Boyes dies Renown South African artist and designer Carrol Boyes dies

Cape Town - South African artist Carrol Boyes died on Wednesday after a brief illness. She was 65. Carrol was the founder, creator and CEO of The Carrol Boyes retailer in Cape Town.

GPS Applications for 2020 are now open! GPS Applications for 2020 are now open!

The Goethe-Institut is happy to announce that the important Goethe-Institut Project Space continues in 2020. GPS funds multi-disciplinary arts projects all over South Africa with up to R60,000. Goethe-Institut Project Space (GPS) is a multi-disciplinary roving project space. The programme supports work realised all over South Africa ranging from workshops to exhibitions, events and performances; including visual art, literature, film, music, dance and theatre projects.

The Start of Women's Month 2019 The Start of Women's Month 2019

1 to 31 August Women’s Month takes place against a backdrop of an increase in the levels of violence and brutality against women and children in our society.

BASA launches much-anticipated ArtsTrack No. 8 BASA launches much-anticipated ArtsTrack No. 8

Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) proudly announced the launch of ArtsTrack No. 8 at the end of July. The 2019 iteration of the report is the eighth update of the original version, tracking consumer engagement, and their perception of arts and culture, and its attendant sponsors. The launch took place at a glitzy event held in the heart of Johannesburg, at the Museum of African Design (MOAD), and included performances from poet Bongani Mathebula (25 Magic).

Looking to network and share your creative work with arts presenters and producers, PACE is awaiting your application Looking to network and share your creative work with arts presenters and producers, PACE is awaiting your application

THE period 25-28 June 2020 will see the Pan-African Creative Exchange (PACE) host its biennial, interdisciplinary arts provocation from the African continent. This will take place in Bloemfontein, South Africa, where African artists will network, share and exchange their arts with national and international arts presenters and producers.

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