South African Cultural Observatory

About Us

Initiated by the Department of Sports, Arts & Culture through the Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy (2011), the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) is a statistical and socio-economic research project, launched in 2014, which charts the socio-economic impact of the arts, culture and heritage (ACH) sectors and the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) in South Africa.

We use a range of innovative statistical methodologies, audits and research tools to understand our creative economy. Our main purpose is the development of a comprehensive cultural information system which continuously captures cultural data and monitors and evaluates government initiatives in the ACH sectors and CCIs. The SACO is headquartered in Nelson Mandela Bay – hosted by Nelson Mandela University on behalf of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) in partnership with Rhodes University and University of KwaZulu-Natal – but operates nationally analysing the CCIs and ACH sectors.

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. We work 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

The Cultural Observatory is a long-awaited and vital initiative in the country’s cultural landscape. The evidence and data collected and analysed assists in assessing where the competitiveness, job-creating and income-generating potential of the creative industries lies. The work of the Cultural Observatory adds value to the arts and culture sectors and enables a real socio-economic value to be attached to activities central to the rich tapestry of South African life.

More News
The changing canvas: AI and cultivating skills for South Africa's future The changing canvas: AI and cultivating skills for South Africa's future

South Africa's vibrant cultural and creative industries (CCIs) have long been a source of national pride and economic growth. The South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) and Department of Sport, Arts and Culture’s (DSAC) statistics that show the CCIs contribute 3% to national GDP and close to 1 million jobs is well known.

IR Roadshow On International Treaties And Obligations For Sport, Arts, Culture And Heritage IR Roadshow On International Treaties And Obligations For Sport, Arts, Culture And Heritage

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture EC together with the national department invited the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) and various stakeholders such as CCIFSA, EC Arts Veterans, ECPACC and Bayworld Museum etc within the sector to convene for an information sharing session aimed at capacitating the department to better represent this sector on a local and international level with a further focus on building active relationships between the department and representing organisations.

Café AI Report Café AI Report

The South African Cultural Observatory and the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation, in partnership with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH) and the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture hosted a dialogue and workshop at the Tshimologong Precinct on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on the creative industries on 13 March 2024.

South Africans Shine On The Global Stage South Africans Shine On The Global Stage

South Africa has been on a winning streak across various sporting and cultural arenas, showcasing the nation's talent and resilience on the global stage. From the Rugby World Cup to the UFC and the Grammy Awards, South Africans have been making their mark and bringing home prestigious accolades.

Open call: ACCES 2024 music showcases Open call: ACCES 2024 music showcases

The Music In Africa Conference for Collaborations, Exchange and Showcases (ACCES) invites African musicians based on the continent to apply for an opportunity to showcase at ACCES 2024 in Kigali, Rwanda, from 14 to 16 November. Organised by the Music In Africa Foundation (MIAF) in different cities across the continent, ACCES offers a platform for performers to showcase their talent to a diverse audience of local and international delegates, including festival curators, promoters, booking agents, record labels and other influential industry professionals.

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