South African Cultural Observatory

About Us

Initiated by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) 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, 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
UNCTAD to Host Africa Launch of Report at the 4th SACO International Conference UNCTAD to Host Africa Launch of Report at the 4th SACO International Conference

The United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will host the Africa launch of its new Creative Economy Outlook and Report 2022 at the conference.

SACO Announces an Exciting Line-Up of International and Local Speakers SACO Announces an Exciting Line-Up of International and Local Speakers

The South African Cultural Observatory announces an exciting line-up of international speakers for the upcoming 4th SACO International Conference. The conference has attracted leading minds and experts working in and across the cultural and creative economy on the African continent, in Europe, Australia and the Americas.

UN honours SA arts and culture researcher as one of world’s 'most influential people of African descent' UN honours SA arts and culture researcher as one of world’s 'most influential people of African descent'

SA Cultural Observatory executive director Unathi Lutshaba was recognised by the UN as one of the global Top 100 under 40 Most Influential People of African Descent.

Durban visual artist Mondli Mbhele wins 2022 Sasol New Signatures Durban visual artist Mondli Mbhele wins 2022 Sasol New Signatures

Full-time artist Mondli Mbhele from Durban was announced as the winner of the 2022 Sasol New Signatures Art Competition. With the win he walks away with a cash prize of R100 000 and an opportunity to have a solo exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum in 2023.

A Spotlight on 4th SACO International Conference A Spotlight on 4th SACO International Conference

In our previous editions this section has been dedicated to key highlights from our recent reports with a view to providing insights on some of the main issues facing the cultural and creative industries (CCIs).

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