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
Executive Direction June 2020 Executive Direction June 2020

As we all know and have somewhat even become accustomed to it, due to social distancing measures put in place to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, since March 26, we have all not able to travel to any venue to consume any form of arts and culture products. Libraries, archives, museums, films and television productions, theatre and orchestra performances, fashion shows, concert tours, zoos as well as music and arts festivals have all been closed or come to a complete halt. Could this signal a death knell for the sector? The answer has to be a Big No, at least not if we can help it as consumers and key stakeholders of the cultural and creative industries.

COVID-19 Impacts on the Sports Sector COVID-19 Impacts on the Sports Sector

World over, sport is recognised by many societies and governments as a major contributor to economic and social development. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected sports of all types across the world and is likely to have a major negative impact.

Mapping the Economic Value of the Creative Industry Mapping the Economic Value of the Creative Industry

In many countries, the growing importance of the cultural and creative industries is increasingly being recognised. The SA Cultural Observatory recently released its second Economic Mapping of the Cultural and Creative Industries in South Africa 2020 (Economic Mapping Study).

An Early Assessment of The Impact of The Covid-19 Crisis on The Cultural and Creative Industries in South Africa An Early Assessment of The Impact of The Covid-19 Crisis on The Cultural and Creative Industries in South Africa

As of March 2020, the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) conducted a survey targeting businesses and freelancers in the cultural and creative industries (CCIs). This survey was undertaken so that the Observatory could ascertain the impact of the measures that were put in place to manage the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Youth is not wasted on Young Creatives: The Creative Economy is where South Africa’s Youth will be national carriers in a Post-Covid-19 world Youth is not wasted on Young Creatives: The Creative Economy is where South Africa’s Youth will be national carriers in a Post-Covid-19 world

Young Creatives in South Africa have heaps of challenges stacked up against them. Their reality is like that of many youth and people whose livelihoods depend on informal labour practises and gig work. Nothing makes this more evident than the effects of Covid-19 on life as we know it. However it is through their infinite potential, innovative capabilities and resilience that the country is endowed with the means to solve the complex problems in the ever-uncertain present and towards a Fourth Industrial future.

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