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
State Theatre mourns death of Sibusiso Khwinana State Theatre mourns death of Sibusiso Khwinana

The council, management and staff of the South African State Theatre has learnt with shock about the death of actor, playwright, and director Sibusiso Khwinana. He was killed during an alleged robbery incident on Friday, 1 March 2019.

SACO's Employment Report Cited by Gauteng Premier Mr David Makhura SACO's Employment Report Cited by Gauteng Premier Mr David Makhura

The South African Cultural Observatory's Employment Report was referenced in the Gaurteng State of the Province Address by Mr David Makhura.

Opportunity open for creative entrepreneurs Opportunity open for creative entrepreneurs

The British Council in partnership with Seed Academy and the Social Enterprise Academy are recruiting 120 creative social entrepreneurs in Cape Town and Johannesburg to take part in a fully-funded, high impact business accelerator programme. Applications open on Monday 18 February.

Strauss & Co’s benchmark sale of contemporary art returns to the V&A Waterfront Strauss & Co’s benchmark sale of contemporary art returns to the V&A Waterfront

Strauss & Co is pleased to announce the second of its contemporary art sales, the only such sale in South Africa devoted exclusively to this exciting category. The announcement of this 107-lot sale, due to be held on 16 February during the run of the Investec Cape Town Art Fair (15 – 17 February), coincides with news that Jack Ginsberg, noted Johannesburg collector and philanthropist, has joined the board of Strauss & Co.

Original Woza Albert! Comes to State Theatre Original Woza Albert! Comes to State Theatre

Performers and storytellers extraordinaire, the dynamic and renowned original actors of the internationally acclaimed South African classic Woza Albert! Mbongeni Ngema and Percy Mtwa, together with their original crew, have regrouped to stage this world-class form of protest theatre once more, and they are headed to the South African State Theatre this March 2019.

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