#SACOConf2017, tomorrow and Thursday, South Africa’s creative economy to unlock higher levels of inclusive growth.

Building on last year’s theme of ‘Counting Culture,’ respected global and local subject matter experts, researchers and practitioners will this year discuss, explore and debate the theme ‘Creative Economy and Development’.

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.

“These initial figures show the potential of an even better supported creative economy. The conference programme supports this thinking and I am very pleased to see a wide range of global and local perspectives on the programme,” said Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Arts & Culture.

Minister Mthethwa said a discussion around the creative economy and development was a pressing matter at this time when new options for inclusive growth, both locally and globally, have to be considered.

“This is the one sector that has the greatest potential to reflect the demographics of the South African society quicker than any other sector of our country. In the face of widening economic disparity and the uncertainty brought about by shifts in growth patterns and the influence of technology, we urgently need to seek new approaches to economic transformation, job creation and development.

“The development of the creative economy offers one such solution; and while not a silver bullet, is certainly one of the many tools in an arsenal for sustainable change and development. This conference is therefore a significant event for South Africa, as it marks the acknowledgement of the extent of the impact of the creative economy,” Mthethwa said

Professor Richard Haines, SACO chief executive said the SACO has secured some of the world and Africa’s leading minds doing work to promote and understand the creative and cultural economy to attend the conference.

“Our programme is a testament to the diversity of the industries and work being done across the sectors. We will be discussing everything from the impact of junk status on the economy, to local and regional policy.

“We will also explore how to go about quantifying, mapping and analysing the creative economy and decolonising it, the contribution of festivals and events, the potential in film and animation, case studies and a myriad of other pressing issues affecting the creative and cultural industries,” he said.

“The conference also coincides with Africa Month and Africa Day celebrations – which means we will highlight the tangible and intangible wealth of Africa and its people, added Minister Mthethwa.

A variety of respected African academics, consultants and practitioners will share experiences from across the continent.

“The 2017 SACO Conference is a celebration of continental creativity and we are pleased to have speakers and delegates from Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya and Nigeria on the programme and contributing to debates. Indirectly the conference celebrates and highlights the tangible and intangible wealth of Africa and its people,” Haines added.

The SACO is a national public research entity of the Department of Arts & Culture (DAC). Established by DAC in 2014, the SACO is a socio-economic think tank focused specifically on analysing the arts, culture and heritage sectors and the creative and cultural industries. It is hosted by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, in partnership with Rhodes University and the University of Fort Hare, operating nationally to develop a comprehensive cultural information system.

For more conference information and the full programme, visit the SACO 2017 National Conference website: https://www.southafricanculturalobservatory.co.za/2017-saco-conference/

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