South African Cultural Observatory

Executive Direction - September 2021

BY 30.09.21

As I write this, we are closing off the Heritage Month in SA, a period during which many South Africans make a deliberate effort to celebrate both their living and intangible cultural heritage in visible ways. I am willing to bet my last cent that in celebrating this month and the heritage day every single one of us interacted with the cultural and creative industry in a significant or non-significant way. What I am not so certain of is whether the majority of artists and cultural practitioners derived any significant economic benefit from our celebrations. 

Heritage month in South Africa recognises aspects of the South African culture which are both tangible and intangible. In fact the term ‘cultural heritage’ has considerably changed and broadened in recent decades, partially owing to the work of UNESCO. It does not end at monuments and collections of objects but includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants such as ‘oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, popular memory, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts or even food for our continued existence’.

It is important that as we engage in these activities to celebrate our cultural heritage, we also make conscious decisions about how we can economically benefit those who are, more often than not, perpetual custodians of our heritage. These are artists and cultural and creative practitioners spread across all cultural domains.

While the Heritage month is over and we will not have many heritage celebrations, we will soon be entering a season full of festivities where we have opportunities to make decisions that benefit the cultural and creative industries. My plea is that we make a deliberate effort to consume cultural goods and services that not only help in growing our cultural heritage, but also economically empower local artists. The research that we conduct at the SA Cultural Observatory is predominantly designed to achieve this purpose, to grow the sector and assist artists from all domains to grow their trade and passion.

In this context, over and above the industry news and highlights, in this edition we feature two important research reports that talk to both copyright and using cultural and creative industries for regional economic development. The reports are COPYRIGHT: Public And Stakeholder Perceptions And Concerns On Current Copyright And Performers Legislation And Proposed Amendments And Regional Development – The Cultural & Creative Industries In South Africa: A Case Of The Sarah Baartman District.

Until then,

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