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Thursday, May 25, 2017


The second South African Cultural Observatory National (SACO) Conference, took place over two days (May 24–25, 2017) at the Turbine Hall in Johannesburg.

Respected global and local subject matter experts, researchers and practitioners have spent this time exploring and debating the theme, the ‘Creative Economy and Development’ drawing on perspectives from around the world and Africa.

Addressing the delegates during her opening address, National Arts Council CEO, Rosemary Mangophe, said “We are very pleased to have attracted some of the foremost minds in the field of cultural economics, who are going to share best and cutting-edge practices with delegates. It’s very exciting to have such a brains trust joining us for the national conference to help advance South Africa’s creative economy.”

Today is Africa Day – and the conference was a vibrant celebration – and critique – of the emerging creative economy on the continent and focused on the African experience of growing, maintaining and developing a strong cultural and creative economy.

“Through this conference we have achieved much of what we set out to do and stimulated debate while profiling the potential of the creative industry as a powerful economic driver,” said Professor Richard Haines, SACO CEO.

“We know South Africa’s GDP contribution – we also know Ethiopian creative economy contribution to GDP is around 4.5% and Nigeria is around 1.7%. The potential for growth is immense – and an outcome of the conference aims to be a more practical approach to leveraging and growing the creative economy.” Prof Haines added.

The creative economy, essentially, is the sum total of all creative and cultural industries and arts, culture and heritage sector activities traded on the market.

Early data points to the creative economy contributing 2.9% to the South African gross domestic product (around R90-billion) – on par with global averages which sit at 3% according to a 2015 EY study. The creative economy also employs over 440,000 South Africans.

The data shows the sectors contributed R24-billion in taxes in the 2013/14 period, and helped underpin the empowerment of black South Africans, women and younger people. Over 50% of the creative industries and enterprises are owned by Black South Africans, 40% are owned by women and more than 30% by young entrepreneurs.

The SACO is a leading national think tank focused on monitoring, mapping, measuring and valuing South Africa’s cultural and creative economy. It is a project of the Department of Arts & Culture (DAC), launched in 2015, and hosted by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in partnership with Rhodes and Fort Hare Universities. It is mandated to produce a working cultural information system for South Africa.

For more information visit the SACO website at