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Opening remarks by Minister Nathi Mthethwa on the occasion of the 3rd BRICS Ministers of Culture Held at Maropeng, Gauteng Province

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31 Oct 2018
Programme Director, 
H.E Sérgio Sá Leitão, Minister of Culture of Brazil
H.E Nicolai Malakov, Deputy Minister of Culture of Russia
H.E Xiang Zhaolun, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism of China
Mr Arun Goel, Secretary: Ministry of Culture of Culture of India.
Senior officials present.
Ladies and gentlemen 
Members of the media. 
 
Let me take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge my counterparts from the various BRICS Countries responsible for culture for making time amid competing and pressing issues in their countries to attend and take part in the 3rd BRICS Culture meeting here in South Africa.  This meeting also takes place as South Africa and indeed the world celebrate the centenary of South Africa’s famous son, the founding father of our democracy and the first democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa, uTata Nelson Mandela. We acknowledge and celebrate his contribution to the culture of peace and service to humanity. We also celebrate the centenary of one of the heroines of our struggle for freedom, Mama Albertina Sisulu who contributed greatly to a democratic South Africa.
 
It is of great significant that this 3rd BRICS Ministers of Culture meeting takes place at Maropeng when BRICS celebrate a decade of partnership, cooperation and success since its formation in 2009. Maropeng is a Setswana word meaning Place of Origin or Cradle of Humankind. It is here where we can all find our roots as human beings, it is this place that enabled scientists to confirm that all of humanity shares an African heritage and that we all belong to one diverse species across the globe.  Welcome to Maropeng, welcome home.
 
This BRICS Culture meeting follows a series of other important meetings within the context of the BRICS partnership in various fields and disciplines. Key among all these meetings is the 10th BRICS Summit that was held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 25 - 27 July 2018. The meeting held under the theme “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution” illustrate the important of this gathering and the common bond that unite us.
 
Ladies and gentleman, let me also acknowledge that as a group, we successfully hosted the 3RD BRICS Film Festival held in Durban from 21 to 27 July 2018, the inaugural BRICS Fashion show that was held in Johannesburg from 24 to 26 October 2018, the BRICS Senior Officials Meeting that was held in Pretoria from 26 to 27 September 2018 and the Alliance of BRICS Libraries meeting from 22 to 24 October 2018. Today we are here to engage in the 3rd BRICS Ministers of Culture meeting. This meeting will affirm the great foundation laid in the 1st and 2nd BRICS Ministers of Culture Meetings held in India and China respectively. I am also looking forward to the BRICS Photographic Exhibition that will be officially opened in Kimberley on 14 November 2018.  
 
1. Thematic Approaches
1.1 BRICS Culture Working Group
Programme Director, during the 2nd Ministers of Culture meeting that took place in China in 2017, the idea of a BRICS Culture Working Group or as it was called then, BRICS Cultural Council, was proposed. The Working Group is an important formation in that it would drive the work of BRICS Culture between Summits, develop programmes and project, advice Ministers on policy matters  and other key strategic issues within our domain. 
 
The working group would foster an increased collaboration and cooperation, share knowledge, skills and best practice among BRICS countries.
 
I therefore welcome and support the establishment of BRICS Culture Working Group 
 
1.2 Institutional Collaboration
In order for us to deepen and strengthen cultural collaboration amongst BRICS Countries, collaboration between several of our cultural institutions is key. Since 2017, meetings of the BRICS Alliance of Galleries and the BRICS Alliance for Youth Theatre took place in China culminating in the signing of the declaration of cooperation among these institutions. This year (2018) the BRICS Alliance of Museums and of Libraries also took place in both China and South Africa respectively. I am pleased by the progress that is being made in these important and critical areas of our work and is looking forward to the various progress reports that will be presented to us later today by these institutions. We welcome and encourage further collaboration in this regard.
 
1.3 Creative Economy
The 10th BRICS Summit, in its Johannesburg Declaration, recognised the importance and role of culture as one of the drivers of the 4th Industrial Revolution and acknowledged the economic opportunities that it presents. The declaration by the Heads of States and Governments requires from all of us gathered here today to join hands and work together to harness this power available to us. It is a task in which we dare not fail. The creative economy represented by film, fashion, animation, crafts and music amongst others, are arguably the greatest assets culture has. It is in this context colleagues that we need to move speedily, to instruct the Working Group to begin work on the available opportunities within BRICS, and to present to us the plan and budget to realise this during our next meeting in Brazil in 2019.  
 
3.3.1 BRICS Film
The BRICS Film Festival has become an important feature in the BRICS calendar of events. It is one of the few activities open to the public that showcase the beauty and creative ingenuity of our people. During the 3rd BRICS Film Festival, industry role players from all BRICS countries met and agreed that it is a great platform to showcase film and to develop the film industries in the BRICS Member States to expand and encourage people to people exchanges.
 
A number of initiatives were proposed such as the BRICS Film Fund and the signing of the BRICS Audio-visual Co-production Treaty. These initiatives will encourage the growth of film in the BRICS countries thereby ushering in a new area of film cooperation to unlock the economic benefit and cultural tourism presented by film. Again the 10th BRICS Summit Declaration has this to say, and I quote, “we commend the organisation of the 3rd BRICS Film Festival and recognise the need to further deepen cooperation in this field. We acknowledge South Africa’s proposal regarding a draft BRICS Treaty on Co-Production of Films to further promote cooperation in this sphere and to showcase the diversity of BRICS cultures’. End of quote. More work including the political, legal, policy, financial and institutional framework has to be done to advance the establishment of BRICS Co- Productions, Animation, a Film Fund, BRICS Academy Awards and distributions strategies. It is the work that has to be done by all of us regardless of the difference in our system of governments and departments.
 
3.3.2 BRICS Animation
Animation can form the basis of a brand new human narrative by which we perceive, experience, and entertain through film. The technological and skills set required to excel in this field of cinema lends itself easily to be tied in with the 4th Industrial economy of the 21st century and beyond.  I single out animation from traditional film deliberately, because managed carefully it has the power to encourage the development of a globally competitive BRICS animation industry. It is a medium that can also draw in a lot of young people to explore and experiment with technology and in the process learn various skills required in the animation industry. 
 
3.3.3 BRICS Fashion Collaboration
Fashion like film is one of the key cornerstones of the creative industry. Both are worth millions to the economy and both are major job creators. Millions of people all around the world are glued to their television sets or their smart phones daily to check the latest fashion trends to help them choose what to buy and wear.  The success of the inaugural BRICS fashion show indicates that there is a market for BRICS Fashion. To this end we need to join hands in encouraging the establishment of an accelerator programme for young BRICS designers – an innovative educational program intended to help young designers to understand the fashion industry, to promote the creation of market access and consumption of fashion amongst BRICS countries, to support access for BRICS fashion designers to participate in each other’s premier fashion shows and to jointly explore manufacturing, textile and retail opportunities within BRICS countries.
 
4 New areas of cooperation
New areas of co-operation will create endless opportunities that can be derived from our respective arts and culture industries. The World Tourism Organisation tells us that Cultural tourism accounts for 37% of global tourism, and furthermore affirms that it will continue to grow and increase by 15% annually..
 
(a) The Cities of BRICS Culture and Tourism, selected by BRICS countries, to promote the culture exchange, attract more tourists and highlight cultural diversity.
 
(b) BRICS Alliance on Culture Industry, proposed to be established to promote cultural industry cooperation among BRICS countries.
 
(c) BRICS Creative Cities Network, to be established following such network by UNESCO.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, let me end by saying the importance of what we do would not be measured by the number of meetings and participants, by the number and size of the documents we append our signatures to or the kilometers we travel to engage in talks but the measure of what we do would be measured by the impact it has on ordinary men and women. The positive influence on their lives, livelihood and the quality lives they live. We have a mammoth task ahead of us, time is of essence, we cannot delay anymore otherwise history will judge harshly. Let me end by quoting Former President Nelson Mandela, addressing the last concert of 46664 in London he said and I quote “It is in your hands” end of quote. It is indeed in our hands and we dare not drop the ball.
 
I thank you