South African Cultural Observatory

About Us

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, 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 Arts and Culture, in partnership with Rhodes University, University of KwaZulu-Natal  and the University of Fort Hare – 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
International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021 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 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.

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.

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