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Saturday, April 4, 2015


The 2015 ACT | UJ Arts & Culture Conference, which took place from March 8 to 10, has helped set the tone for creatives to continue to make things happen.

The two and a half day conference entitled Creatives Make it Happen presented delegates from different contexts with a platform to meet and learn from one another within creative industries. Thought-leaders and experts in their fields; Kathleen Stokes, Dali Tambo, Nhlanhla Paul Sibisi, Phiona Okumu, Joy Mboya, Michael Rubenstein, Sionne Neely and many others shared their wealth of knowledge with attendees and presented ideas to help them make better use of opportunities available within the industry.

“Opportunities to access the broad range of innovative business and best practice ideas in contemporary creative South Africa that were presented by more than sixty dynamic role players at the conference are rare and ACT is proud to have had the opportunity to make it happen. We are privileged to have had a range of valuable partners who collaborated with ACT to share information, knowledge and research with stakeholders of the creative industries with a view to enable, advance and inspire the sector,” says Arts & Culture Trust CEO, Pieter Jacobs.

The conference gave delegates an opportunity to build relationships through an unprecedented networking feature on the opening night by FoodJams pioneer Jade de Waal. Jade was listed in 2013 in the Mail & Guardian as one of the top 200 Young South Africans.

The cluster-based symposium, which covered a range of topics focusing on analysis of the current creative sector landscape, collaborations and creative entrepreneurship opportunities, provided attendees with a refreshing approach to discussions which filtered into social media. Conversations around the conference that trended nationally for two consecutive days on the social media site Twitter, included @rori_set’s reflection: “#Conference #ArtsAndCultureConference #CreativesMakeItHappen just been a big, exciting and insightful 3 days.” while entrepreneur @_madvision said: “I had an amazing time @actujconference #CreativesMakeItHappen, cant wait to collaborate.” Social media activity largely indicated that the public thought the programme was well put together.

Keynote speaker Kathleen Stokes examined the concept of the creative economy and shared her thoughts on the conference. “Brilliant time discussing collaboration and #collecon [collaborative economy] at @actujconference. Great conversations + lots learnt. Thnks! #creativesmakeithappen.”

The creative conference focused on providing a platform for parties involved in formal and informal structures of the arts to engage, and @Crit_ZA, who enjoyed the presentation on Creative South Africa stressed: “Finally, a dynamic speaker from DAC [Department of Arts & Culture] who gives us some hope. @actujconference #creativesmakeithappen Thank you Monica Newton”.

To continue the ideas and discussions tackled at the conference, the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) and UJ Arts & Culture will host a series of free weekly public post-conference  engagements, entitled ‘Creatives in Conversation’ on Thursdays at the UJ Arts Centre, from April 16.

Details on the conversations will be updated on
In addition, there is a compilation of practical industry resources that creative industry stakeholders can use going forward. These resources include toolkits, business and legal templates as well as research, and are available via

Other tangible outcomes of the 2015 conference include an arts and culture directory, which is available on The listing, which has been digitized, consists of contact details, information of organisations, institutions, agencies and businesses working in the creative industries. The Arts & Culture Trust encourages the use of this improved feature by those wanting to engage with the creative industries.

Adding to the numerous highlights, the announcement of the ‘Pitch Perfect’ competition winners was made at the closing of the conference. Winners Jade Bowers and Sajen Thathiah competed against fellow delegates showcasing their creative, yet business inspired concepts and received Nedbank Arts Affinity grants totalling R100,000.

Before the final choices were made, business guru Michael Rubenstein noted the quality of ideas from all finalists saying, “Amazing pitches at #creativesmakeithappen @actujconference difficult to decide who the winner is.”

The top two ideas selected were as follows: The National Database for New South African Plays by Jade Bowers, which is an online database of new and/or unpublished South African plays which aims to create a platform for playwrights to connect with theatre makers, provide administrative and licensing tools, contracts, pricing structures, copyright and other legal advice.

SajenThathiah, the other winner celebrates the value of creativity in the learning process with an Educational Board Game aimed specifically at children between the ages of six and eighteen. The game teaches them risk and expense management in a fun and effective way.

The ACT | UJ Arts & Culture Conference was presented by the Arts & Culture Trust, UJ Arts & Culture and British Council Connect ZA, with support from the Department of Arts and Culture, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), SAMRO Foundation, Pro Helvetia, the Delegation of the European Union in South Africa, the SA-UK Seasons 2014 & 2015; and media partners Classicfeel magazine and UJfm.