South African Cultural Observatory

The SA Cultural Observatory - Measuring and Valuing SA’s Cultural and Creative Industries - March 2021

BY 30.03.21

The SA Cultural Observatory was established primarily to undertake economic research for the cultural and creative industries. We publish our reports in various media platforms, including this newsletter, to benefit as many cultural practitioners as possible. In this publication we put a spotlight on two recent reports which can be downloaded in full from our website (www.southafricanculturalobservatory.org.za). We briefly discuss the Private sector support for the CCI in South Africa; and Cultural Participation and Consumption in South Africa: A demand-side reports.

Private Sector Support For The CCI In South Africa

This study was undertaken against the backdrop of continued dominance of public sector funding for the cultural and creative industries (CCI). This dominance raises concerns of sustainability for the industry and calls for urgent industry attention to do its best to attract and leverage private sector funding to reduce dependency on government funding. This will further unlock the industry’s potential to be a major contributor in economic growth, job creation and social cohesion.

As it stands, private sector funding is largely biased towards events and festivals, the visual and performing arts, shows and exhibitions, film and television, and training and educational programmes.

The study found that private sector support is predominantly for bigger events and for larger and more established organisations. This raises concerns of growth and transformation as the industry is dominated by smaller businesses, many of which are individual artists or those who operate on a freelance or short-term contract basis.

The report shows that the main form of private sector funding support is corporate social investment (CSI) and is often done with economic considerations and for regulatory compliance.

However, the CCIs can make a business case for private sector investment in CCIs including innovations that have come from the CCIs.

Cultural Participation And Consumption In South Africa: A Demand-Side Report

While substantial international research has been done on factors that determine the levels of participation in, and consumption of, cultural activities, there has been no overall study of cultural participation or consumption in South Africa to date. In this context, SACO undertook the research to get a  better understanding of the cultural consumption and participation patterns of South Africans. This is important for two reasons: (i) in order to track the effectiveness of cultural policy in broadening access and participation in diverse sociodemographic groups; and (ii) in order to understand the cultural ecosystem that underpins the demand side of the creative economy, especially in terms of the marketing strategies adopted by CCI firms in the post Covid-19 recovery.

Results show that South Africans are relatively highly culturally engaged with 74.7% having engaged in some form of cultural consumption in the last year, and 78.3% had engaged in some form of cultural participation in the same period.

The key findings of the report include the following:

  • Those from households with higher standards of living are more culturally engaged;
  • Younger people are more likely to be culturally engaged that older people;
  • People with higher levels of education were more likely to be culturally engaged than people with lower levels of education, even when controlling for other variables, like household resources.
  • Those who participated in informal cultural activities were also much more likely to participate in formal cultural consumption.
  • Men were more likely than women to engage in formal cultural consumption, but women were much more likely than men to engage in cultural participation;
  • Black South Africans were less likely to have engaged in cultural consumption in the last year, but much more likely to have engaged in cultural participation, even when controlling for other variables, like household resources, age and education levels.

Implications for cultural policy are, that in order to achieve higher levels of access and participation, funding should be directed not only towards formal cultural production and consumption activities, but also to enabling informal cultural participation.

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