Arts policy must reflect realities of the day

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12 Jul 2013

The Department of Arts and Culture hosted a workshop to present a revised draft White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage to its stakeholders on 12 July 2013.

The White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage is the main policy framework for the department and the sector. It provides a vision and is a basis for the current institutional framework in the sector. However, it is important to acknowledge that at the time when the White paper was adopted (1996), it was meant for a branch or programme within what was then the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. However, in 2004, a fully-fledged Ministry of Arts and Culture was created. The establishment of a separate Ministry served as government’s acknowledgement of the importance and relevance of arts, culture and heritage in our national priorities.

In addition to the responsibility to promote the arts, preserve and protect heritage, the creative sector has emerged as an important role player in social cohesion, national identity and job creation. The Department of Arts and Culture thus believes its mandate has expanded since the adoption of the White Paper in 1996. The review process must fully respond to the mandate of the department. The Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy has also enhanced the role of arts and culture in sustainable economic growth and development.

Speaking at the review workshop, Minister Paul Mashatile emphasised that “the realities of the day required for the White Paper to be reviewed. Government must assume its responsibility and lead the process. As we do that, we must be inclusive to ensure that the final product is acceptable to everyone in the sector. We are a multi-cultural society and the outcome of this process (White Paper Review) should reflect that”, said Mashatile.
The Director-General of the Department, Mr. Sibusiso Xaba argued in his presentation that one of the modern-day realities was that the arts, culture and heritage sector had to do more with little resources. He said while the department would continue to adhere to good governance and compliance, the “shrinking budget” required that the department did things differently to ensure that it spent most of its budget on service delivery. “One of the possibilities is to consider clustering some of the compliance functions of our public entities. It is not economically viable to have a Board of Directors for each of our 28 public entities”, said Xaba.

After the workshop, the department will take the draft White Paper to Parliament. It is expected that parliament will conduct its own public participation process and conclude the process by the end of the year.

Issued by the Department of Arts and Culture

Enquiries                     : Mack Lewele  012 441 3083/082 450 5076