South African Cultural Observatory

Executive Direction - September 2022

BY 30.09.22

Halala. It is here: the 4th international South African Cultural Observatory conference. After three years of COVID-19 disruptions and the feeling that we would never return to normal life or in person events, the world is starting to return to the new normal.

I cannot tell you how excited I am – or how important this moment is where we will discuss the contours and shape of a creative economy reset, for South Africa, Africa and the world.

We are literally a few weeks away from the much-anticipated SACO international conference. Throughout the past few years, hundreds of our stakeholders and the greater industry have kept asking me when we would host another conference. It’s been difficult to respond without trepidation – we just didn’t know when we would be able to with the daily COVID-19 pressures. Now, I can boldly invite every creative stakeholder to register to attend and join us – in person or online.

Get ready, prepare best creative insights, find something symbolic of the moment and awesome to wear, and get ready to engage local and global thinkers on how we can all benefit more sustainably and inclusively from the creative economy in the future.

The conference will be held on 9 and 10 November 2022 at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria, Tshwane under the theme “Creative economy reset: Structuring the creative and cultural industries for a sustainable and inclusive future”. We will host the conference in a hybrid format, allowing physical and online participation.

 I urge you to clear your diaries for the two days of high-level engagement. Register here SACO 4th International Conference 2022 to ensure you do not miss out on top level insights, case studies, practices and approaches, and the world’s latest data and research on the creative economy.

The conference takes place protracted difficulties on the international stage. As I write, the world is still dealing with the impacts of Covid-19, and other threats such as climate change, heightened international conflict in Europe, disrupted supply chains, wobbly economies,  and mounting inflation. These confluence of factors are producing perpetual and severe uncertainty for the world economy. As our research has continuously demonstrated, the creative economy is especially vulnerable to economic fluctuations, but also equally resilient.

In designing and thinking about this conference, these issues were uppermost in our mind as we seek to rebalance after Covid-19, while harnessing the moment to deal with embedded inequalities, protecting livelihoods, and maximizing the opportunities that technology and digital transformation brings. 

Moreover, the upcoming quarter has creativity as its core. The UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development – MONDIACULT 2022 just concluded in Mexico today. It will be followed by the World Conference on Creative Economy in Bali next week hosted by Indonesia, and the Abu Dhabi Culture Summit on a living culture at the end of October. All of these major events are bookended by the SACO’s conference in November and many insights can flow through from these key moments on to our agenda and into our discussions,

As we put the final touches on the preparations for the conference, I am especially thrilled with the quality of papers received in response to our call for abstract submissions, as well as the calibre of speakers who have agreed to participate in the conference to share their knowledge and experiences. In a few days’ time we will announce the line-up of speakers and selected papers and submissions that will be presented at the conference.

I look forward to meeting many of you at the conference, but most importantly kxzto many healthy and positive engagements about how all of us can participate in rebuilding and reshaping the cultural and creative industries for a sustainable future.

Until then,

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I am hopeful that as you read this edition of The Cultural Observer you are warm as this winter has been very chilly, with temperatures plummeting to close to zero degrees in some parts of the country.

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This edition of The Cultural Observer is published during an interesting but complex international environment. While on the positive side the world has seen Covid-19 infections numbers subside, we are witnessing a war that has a devasting impact to the world economy.


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As we publish this edition of the Cultural Observer, most of the West has placed South Africa in the travel red list owing to the Omicron variant of Covid-19 identified by the South African scientists.

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