South African Cultural Observatory

Creative Economy Reset - Post Conference Publication 2022/2023

The South African Cultural Observatory’s Fourth International Conference, or #SACOConf2022, took place at the end of 2022 amid trying times for all nations and people, but Africans in particular, as the impact and after-effects of COVID-19, climate change, heightened international conflict, disrupted supply chains, and mounting inflation collided to produce severe uncertainty for the world economy. At the time of publication, these challenges remain.

For developing economies and the most vulnerable – many of whom are creatives doing precarious work – these crises amount to an ambush on global and local ambitions for the sustainable growth of nascent creative economies. Yet they are just symptomatic of an increasingly uncertain future of shocks for which we need to prepare and approach with trends in mind, cognisant of big challenges around sustainability, gender, inclusivity, and decolonisation; and the value of South-South cooperation and trade relations.

These omniscient threats are complex and painful, and present a significant challenge for policy makers, big and small business, civil society leaders and organisations, for value and supply chains, and the creative producer, maker, and worker. The #SACOConf2022 event was one of the steps toward preparations that need to take place to facilitate a real reset of the creative economy, especially in African countries and South Africa in particular, while we adapt to a global state of perma-crisis in the overall economy. 

We made an open, global call for papers in early 2022, but specifically sought voices and perspectives from the Global South and Africa. The resounding worldwide response was an indication of the demand for a platform to share learnings about local experiences and global trends and how they interact in the creative economy in the wake of COVID-19. Over the course of the conference, delegates engaged in more than 23 sessions and heard presentations and inputs from 98 speakers or panellists from 18 countries, many of them from the Global South.

A time of crisis can also be a time of experimentation and adaptation and offers an opportunity to refocus on the core purpose and values of the creative sector. Many of the contributions to this volume speak to crisis zeitgeist, and the ways in which hope allows one to imagine possible and preferable futures for the creative industries.

We are proud to say this post-conference publication, and the submissions collected from conference presentations, has created a record of the discussions and debates that took place at the conference in November 2022; and frames the kind of reset that is needed.

The publication – which holds significant inputs from leading researchers and academics, alongside practitioners, funders, and civil society – helps us better understand shifting trends, tensions, and possibilities in the cultural and creative industries as we try to shape a sustainable and inclusive future for all.  

This document is a joint publication of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) and the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) with their partners, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).  

It provides a compilation of select insights, papers, reports, keynotes, and presentations delivered at the South African Cultural Observatory’s 4th International Conference on 9 and 10 November 2022 under the theme: “Creative Economy Reset: Structuring the Creative and Cultural Industries for a Sustainable and Inclusive Future” funded and hosted by the DSAC. 

The publication project was managed by Andani.Africa, and this document was prepared by them in cooperation with the SACO.

The publication was edited by Madeleine Lambert (Andani.Africa), Lonwabo Mavuso (Andani.Africa), and Amy Shelver (SACO). 

The publication layout and design were done by Nic Symes.

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