national Arts Festival Banner

Monday, April 14, 2014


South Africa’s Arts and Culture Minister, Paul Mashatile, and the British High Commissioner to South Africa, Judith MacGregor, on behalf of the British Council, recently launched the SA-UK Seasons 2014 & 2015, a collaboration that will see the two countries engage, for the next two years, in creative programmes as a channel to further strengthen cultural relations between these two nations.

“We launch the SA-UK Seasons 2014 & 2015 as part of our ongoing commitment to open up new markets, facilitate skills transfer and create sustainable livelihoods for all those within the South African arts, culture and heritage sector. South Africa and the United Kingdom have strong bilateral relations, a shared language, similar legal and financial systems and common values. SA and the UK are also long-standing trade partners and have vibrant tourism industries. The Seasons, through showcasing our rich arts and culture, will no doubt enhance our well-established relations,” said Minister Mashatile.

The Seasons takes on greater significance as 2014 marks South Africa’s 20th anniversary of freedom and democracy.

“I’m delighted to launch with Minister Mashatile this week the UK-SA Arts and Culture collaboration Seasons through to the end of 2015. This marks the start of an exciting period ahead, where we will see South African and British artists showcasing their talents during the 20th Anniversary of Freedom and Democracy in South Africa. This season demonstrates the depth and strength of the relationship between South Africa and the United Kingdom. I look forward to continuing and establishing new partnerships between our two countries and peoples into the next generations,” says MacGregor.

The SA-UK Seasons was born from talks which began at the Inter-Ministerial Bilateral forum in London in 2011, resulting in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Arts and Culture which sets out a platform for cooperation to be implemented by the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and the UK British Council. The DAC will work closely with the British Council in South Africa to promote institutional collaboration and various programmes.

Former South African Ambassador to Portugal, Thandiwe January-McLean, and Baroness Usha Prashar from the United Kingdom have been appointed as co-chairs of the Seasons. Internationally accomplished artist and manager, Bongani Tembe, has been appointed Commissioner-General. He will work closely with innovative arts manager Tom Porter, Head of Arts for the British Council in South Africa, and a team of experts and officials from both countries in leading and implementing the Seasons.

“We look forward to developing a shared programme of activities, opportunities and communication that will complement projects already developed through Connect ZA and the South African Season in the UK. Our programmes will be a catalyst for new partnerships that will enable us to highlight and extend existing creative links between our two countries,” says Colm McGivern, the Director of the British Council in South Africa.

The programme will be jointly branded in order to attract the widest possible interest from the public in both countries and internationally.

“Through this partnership, both parties recognise the desire to positively influence each other – resulting in shared thinking on arts, culture and creative industry issues; building partnerships around opportunities for both our countries’ artists and arts institutions, particularly around the challenges of creating job opportunities, promoting innovation and nurturing leadership of the arts for the future,” says Bongani Tembe, Commissioner-General of the South African Season.

The SA-UK Seasons is composed of four streams. The Seasons will jointly support projects of a collaborative nature between South Africa and the UK, a South African Season in the UK and the British Council project in South Africa, Connect ZA. The fourth stream of activity comprises joint projects which are endorsed without funding by the Seasons but will benefit from the communication of the campaign of the Seasons. Both the British Council and the Department of Arts and Culture will each contribute R2 million to the joint projects fund. A call to private businesses will also be made.

Tom Porter, Head of Arts for the British Council in South Africa, says: “We’re delighted to be launching the Seasons with the Department of Art and Culture as it will create further opportunities to create new connections and collaborations between the UK and South Africa’s creative sector that have already started to make an impact through the Connect ZA programme. We look forward to developing a mutually beneficial partnership that will strengthen creative ties between the countries and enable us to develop a greater understanding of the vibrant creative sector in South Africa.”

The SA-UK Seasons 2014 & 2015 is off the back of a successful France-South Africa Season, which saw around 1000 South Africans tour more than 250 cities in France. According to Minister Mashatile, the France-South Africa Season contributed positively to the goals of

South Africa’s Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy, chief among them ensuring that the creative industry plays a significant role in the economic development of the country. The South African-French Seasons is said to have contributed a substantial increase – up to 16% – of French tourists visiting South Africa.

“We are confident that the SA-UK Seasons will contribute positively and significantly to both countries, economically and socially. This is a great opportunity to truly empower our communities,” adds Minister Mashatile.