South African Cultural Observatory National Conference
arts & culture
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
SACO 4th International Hybrid Conference

About the South African Cultural Observatory

Date: 9 & 10 November 2022

Led by the Department of Arts and Culture, the SACO is a statistical research institute which charts the impact of the cultural and creative industries in South Africa through a range of innovative statistical methodologies, audits and research tools. It hosted by Nelson Mandela University (NMU) on behalf of the Department of Arts and Culture, along with Rhodes University and the University of Fort Hare.

The SACO’s primary mandate is the development of a comprehensive cultural information system which continuously captures cultural data and monitors and evaluates government initiatives in the sector.

The Cultural Observatory is headquartered in Nelson Mandela Bay but operates nationally through a network of researchers and employees. 

The SA Cultural Observatory supports the collection and analysis of data, influences policy, shares insights and builds on the intellectual capacity gained across the arts, culture and heritage sectors. It works across the breadth of all cultural domains, including the arts, heritage, tourism, museums, libraries, archives and creative industries.

The key functions of the South African Cultural Observatory include:

  • Advanced theoretical and policy-relevant research on cultural trends and the cultural economy
  • The conceptualization and collection of statistics (data-bases)
  • Monitoring and Evaluating the impact of  cultural events
  • Providing physical and online access to the cultural information
  • Capacity building within the Arts, Culture and Heritage sectors and Creative Industries
  • Networking, partnering and knowledge sharing
  • Promoting cultural diplomacy

Find out more by contacting us on or visiting our website