The South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) today announced the theme for its national conference with an accompanying call for papers.

The conference will explore the interface between the creative economy and development – an emerging global trend and point of policy consideration as countries and cities try to activate their creative economy to create jobs, build liveable cities and spaces, and grow local and national economies.

The conference is scheduled to take place over two days on May 24 and 25 at the Turbine Hall in Johannesburg, South Africa. This is the research institute’s second national conference since it was established in 2015 by the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) to advance research in the field of cultural information systems.

The SACO and DAC are inviting all academics and industry practitioners to submit abstracts for consideration, including: local and international academics; industry professionals and practitioners; public managers and intellectuals; researchers and consultants; private sector sponsors and practitioners; NGOs and organisations working in the CCIs, and organisers of cultural festivals and events.

“The objective of the conference is to convene a good portion of the global and national academic community interested in the creative sector and economy to share their research, so we can establish trends and look for alignment and best practices to apply to the South African context,” said SACO chief executive, Professor Richard Haines.

The SACO is seeking papers and presentations for the conference under one major theme: ‘The Creative Economy & Development – Perspectives from the Developed and Emerging Economies’. In support of the major theme, papers, presentations and panel discussions are invited within the following thematic areas:

  • Area Studies.
  • Understanding the Creative Economy: Trends and Issues.
  • The Creative Economy: Value and Development across the CCIs.
  • Public Policy and the Creative Economy.
  • Human Resources in the CCIs.
  • Research & Mapping.
  • The South African Experience: Current and Emerging Issues.

“We are looking for proposals for academic papers and presentations; and popular or academic panel discussions from relevant disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields relevant to the theme and sub-themes,” Haines added.

“Proposals from practitioners, organisations and interested parties across all cultural domains – and particularly those interested in presenting case studies – are very welcome.

Njabulo Sithebe, SACO Deputy Director: Research & Engagement said: “We aim to break new intellectual ground at this conference, drawing on global best practices and lessons as well as bottom-up insights and experiences for the across the spectrum of cultural and creative domains.”

Proposals for papers and presentations should take the form of an abstract of between 200 -400 words. Proposals for popular or academic panel discussions should be accompanied by a short rationale, abstract or motivation, no longer than 500 words, and a short outline of the speaker’s experience in the field.

The deadline for abstract submissions is Friday 31 March 2017, 5pm SAT and must be submitted online via: