Launch of South African Business Women in the Arts

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16 Sep 2012

Programme Director,
Patrons of SABWA, Angie Makwetla,
Yvonne Chaka Chaka & Adrienne Sichel,
Distinguished Artists & Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am deeply delighted to be present at the launch of what promises to be a great institution. I applaud the women in the arts for coming together and organizing themselves in this manner, it could not have come at a better time. This is an important move as your very presence indicates a critical mass as women artists and as part of a Women’s Movement for emancipation, as we still face challenges as women.

In South Africa, we have a rich tradition and history of women organizing ourselves, from the turn of the previous century Charlotte Maxeke organized and led women on an anti-pass march in 1913 in Bloemfontein. Though she was our first woman science graduate, she was an accomplished singer who was encouraged to stay in United Kingdom when she visited the country in the early 1900’s. She preferred to work in South Africa. Charlotte Maxeke formed the Zenzele Women’s Project to empower rural women, the first African women’s self help group, she was a very visionary thinker and activist. She founded the Bantu Women’s League, a precursor to the ANC Women’s League which is still running today. We have many such examples of strong women in history who organized themselves and their communities, Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Dora Tamana, Florence Mposho, Fatima Meer and many others. In the recent times other examples are the great Miriam Makeba and Letta Mbulu, who became our true ambassadors when they popularized the struggle against apartheid for a just and equitable South Africa. They took on a social responsibility for their beloved South Africa using their art. I therefore have great confidence that you will succeed in your endevours.

My Department has embarked on a number of activities promoting women in the arts. During the Women’s Month in August we had an Intergenerational Women’s Dialogue, African Women Writer’s Symposium, including women writers from the Diaspora, we launched the Dulcie September Memorial Lecture and paid Tribute to Women in Arts and Culture which would be an annual arts awards programme to recognize seasoned artists in various disciplines and to encourage younger women artists. We are supporting a number of projects run by women, especially those who have trained through our Investing in Culture programme. Through the National Film and Video Foundation we have supported initiatives in filmmaking by women. All these help to set the scene and pace for women in the arts to flourish by helping create the conditions for women to thrive in the arts through arts businesses without fear of patriarchy or favour.

Your initiative to organize yourselves in this broad women’s formation, inclusive of all disciplines of the arts makes you a very powerful body. It is therefore up to you as power lies in your hands, to take up matters affecting you. Some of you would have been present at the Imbizo held by our President for the performance artists in November last year, when he called on artists to organize themselves. You are heeding his call. This allows you to lobby for change, to monitor issues, to allow for mentoring to take place especially with new participants and businesswomen. The importance of your knowledge and skills represent a wealth that can be tapped into, a reservoir of expertise and creativity. An entrepreneur is also a kind of intellectual, a possible activist, a technician, a popularizer, and a PR expert who can communicate to the hearts and minds of the people. The entrepreneur must also work hand in hand with others to achieve her goals and she depends on others as well for success.

Since the democratic dispensation the Department has worked on changing and amending laws and policies to facilitate equitable conditions for all artists. We looked at race, class and at bridging the rural urban divide. Allow me to speak to you of each of the sectors.
The conditions for successful entrepreneurship are conducive in South Africa more than many people realize.

The macro economic framework for the country, despite some challenges relating to the economy’s inability to broadly include everyone as a beneficiary, has been generally healthy.
There is concerted effort to encourage entrepreneurship
Business finance is available, notwithstanding difficulties in accessing it.
There are general business support mechanisms in place, again notwithstanding difficulties for the great majority of South Africans to access the help.
There is still interest in South African cultural products abroad.
South Africa has a lot to offer in terms of cultural products.

It is important to raise the issue of the conducive environment in South Africa to encourage entrepreneurship because it is an important cornerstone for development of economies across the world.

This is very true for the creative industries and for the craft sector in particular. The advantage that the craft sector for example enjoys is that barriers for entry are very low, thus providing a real opportunity for people with the right skills to enter the sector.

The sector’s potential is still largely untapped. There is a huge reservoir of indigenous knowledge that can be harnessed to improve the competitiveness of this sector and other related sectors such as design in all its various disciplines such as fashion, interior, product, as well as other sectors such as tourism, etc.

There is reasonable interest and demand in African crafts in other parts of the world such as the US and Europe. The opportunity that exists for South African entrepreneurs is to take advantage of this interest to increase the market share for South African crafts in particular. Often, these markets cannot differentiate South African crafts from the rest of continental crafts. It will take systematic market penetration strategy to increase awareness and appreciation of South African crafts.

There is an advantage that South African crafts enjoys largely due to its diversity and variety in terms of products and materials used in the production of the these crafts.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that South Africa has a bad reputation for inability to deliver the required quality and quantities. This is a huddle that entrepreneurs have to contend with and reverse. To remedy that, we need entrepreneurs who are on top of their game in terms of ensuring that there is absolute customer satisfaction, uncompromising quality and delivery in terms of quantity, innovation in terms of product development and diversity, mastery of the challenging environment of export of those operating at that level, and systematic marketing. These are areas that need entrepreneurs who know what they are doing.

Having said all of the above, it is also important for potential entrepreneurs to be provided with the necessary support to be successful in all these areas. That support includes appropriate training interventions to raise the levels of skills, financial and other business development support. We will work tirelessly to ensure that Government comes to the party in this regard by streamlining our initiatives that are intended to encourage and support the development of entrepreneurship. We all know the challenge that traditional sectors such as manufacturing, mining and agriculture faces to continue creating jobs. Small business development utilising new economic sectors such as creative industries are growing increasingly important in terms of meeting national objectives such as job creation and entrepreneurship development.

At present we are producing approximately 10 films per annum with a low government contribution to the sector because of the various social demands on our Treasury such as housing, health, education and social grants to name a few. Despite this many of our films have won many awardsin the recent times. Tsotsi won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film; Hotel Rwanda received 4 Oscar nominations; Yesterday received 1 Oscar nomination; Elalini won an Oscar for Best Student Film; U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha won the Golden Bear, Berlin; Wooden Camera won the Silver Bear, Berlin; Drum won The Golden Stallion & Best Art Direction, Fespaco; Zulu Love Letter won European Union Prize & Best Actress, Fespaco; Max and Mona won Best First Time Director (Feature), Fespaco; Lion’s Trail won the Emmy Award; Skin won 14 international awards; Izulu Lami won 4 International awards; Shirley Adams won Best film , Locarno and Father Christmas won Best Narrative Short, Tribeca
The benefits to South Africa from the film sector are Job Creation; Cultural Export, Global Positioning, Nation Building, Social Cohesion and the Preservation of Historical memory

In the music sector our present statistics are scant : Statistics compiled by RiSA’s Secretariat reveal that the South African recording industry (alone) had a wholesale turnover of just over R976 million for physical products (record sales) in 2006. Income from royalty collection by SAMRO 2009 alone as 2010 financial report is under review.

Music Rights Income

• Licence and Royalty – R277,7 million - 2009 (2008 – R263,5 million) +5.4%
• Broadcast – R180.5 million – 2009 (2008 – R175,9 million) +2.6%
• General – R 82.6 million - 2009 (2008 – R70,5 million) +17.2%
• Foreign – R 8.0 million – 2009 (2008 – R7,3 million) +9.6%

The collecting society as with all the market forces was affected by the conditions in the global economy and the overall financial performance was markedly below expected outcomes.

I am pleased to note that the South African book sector is growing at an unprecedented pace. The latest figures indicate that the book industry in South Africa has a net turnover of R5 billion. It is ironic that of this figure, author royalties account for a mere R300 million. If we were to unpack the details of royalty distribution, you will learn that these royalties are unevenly balanced with regard to race demographics.

The other disappointing fact is that our burgeoning literary landscape has not translated into a significant increase in readership. Much still needs to be done by mothers and fathers, teachers, fellow students and by communities to ensure that ours is a reading culture.

It is important to chronicle our own stories, I mention this in the light of our Heritage Month. The Department of Arts and Culture and the Kwazulu-Natal provincial government will host the 2010 national Heritage Day celebrations. The event will take place in Durban on 24 September 2010.

The focus of the celebrations is: Celebrating 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup successes: our heritage.This is a call to South Africans to celebrate our collective achievements during the FIFA World Cup.

We will use the event to acknowledge and recognise the hard work and sacrifices of the various sectors of our society during the World Cup.

The celebration of our 2010 FIFA World Cup successes as part of our heritage is necessary to keep the record of our success for current and future generations. Long after this tournament is gone, South Africans will always bear the memory of 2010 as a source of inspiration, hope and strength when confronted with any form of hardship or adversity.

This year heritage month celebrations will take place under the theme: Celebrating South Africa’s Living Human Treasures - the custodians of our Intangible Cultural Heritage. The theme will be used over a period of two years. I would like to encourage women in communities through their networks to be nominated and considered as national treasures in their own rights. As women, we need to recoup our “Herstories” to place on record women’s contribution to the growth of South Africa.

Finally, it is important for women to tell our own stories, charting our own paths – women businesses learning from each other, the importance of cross-generational dialogues and walking the talk inspired by the Charlotte Maxekes of this world. It is important to put mechanisms in place to empower women and this organisation is one that must sustain businesses and also sustain itself and grow stronger over time like Equity in Britain. I think that women’s businesses would be more caring and value centered. We would bring into the market a more human way of doing business with social responsibility whilst producing quality cultural products. The emerging economic growth sector globally is cultural industries. I wish SABWA all the best in its endevours.

Thank you.