South African Cultural Observatory

Executive Direction - December 2022

BY 20.12.22

The year 2022 has been an eventful and exciting one for the cultural and creative sector. This is particularly so given that it was a year in which the industry was allowed to function for the full year without the lock-down restrictions witnessed in the two previous years. For the SA Cultural Observatory this was also an exciting year as we put together and hosted an international conference with people being able to participate in-person as well as virtually after a four-year hiatus.

I figured that in this last edition of the calendar year and given than it’s just over a month since we hosted the conference, I’d do a brief reflection on what was a highly anticipated and successful 4th SACO International Hybrid Conference.

Themed ‘Creative Economy Reset: Structuring the creative and cultural industries for a sustainable and inclusive future’, the conference brought together local and international leading brains and experts in cultural and creative economy to share their thoughts, experiences and potential innovative solutions on how the industry can reset after the significant negative impact of Covid-19.

This conference contributed to our deeper understanding of where the sector was before the crisis and how the crisis has impacted us. It offered insights that assist those involved in decisions that shape the future state of CCIs, and concurrently inform an agenda of what needs to be done to repair the damage and prepare the platform for rapid, equitable and sustainable growth.

We know that COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way the world works but are excited that the conference provided a platform and an opportunity for the industry to reset in a positive way considering a new status quo, and to future-proof and prepare for future shockwaves such as economic uncertainty, climate change, costs of living crises and conflict.

The conference brought together thinkers, theorists, academics, key stakeholders, and practitioners to share experiences and insights about what, and how the industry can rebuild, consolidate and innovate in order to grow and support sustainable livelihoods within the CCI sector. The conference provided a platform for over 400 industry stakeholders from 19 countries and was addressed by 98 speakers who engaged in a variety of industry topics such as economics, partnerships, collaborations, culture, and creative business.

With participation from so many countries, the conference was a meeting of the global community gathered in South Africa to discuss current trends, norms, and practices affecting the creative sector. The industry came together to foster partnerships, collaboration, and pathways for meaningful collaboration across the sector and the globe to help sustain the ideas and solutions that can help reset the sector.

Ultimately, we all need to play a role in rebuilding and reshaping the cultural and creative industry – so we can all continue to benefit from the richness it has to offer. There’s simply too much to lose if we don’t.

Given the experience of the conference and how 2022 turned out, I am oozing with confidence that 2023 will be a fulfilling and an empowering year for the creative industry.

Until then,

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