Speech by Minister Mashatile on the occasion of the signing of the MoU between Arts and Culture and British Council of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The British High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr Nicola Brewer
Officials from the government of the United Kingdom
Officials from the South African government
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It gives us great pleasure to meet you here today, to further strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the peoples of the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Today we are taking an important step in promoting greater understanding and appreciation of our cultures.
We are also strengthening trust, mutual respect as well as creating opportunities for the further advancement of relations between our two nations.
We note that it is not the first time that we undertake such an initiative with the United Kingdom.
In 2005 we signed a Statement of Intent on Bilateral Co-operation. This was followed by the signing of a Film Co-production Treaty in 2006.
As a result of this Treaty, eight films have been certified and co-productions involving South Africa, Canada and the United Kingdom have been developed.
Also in 2006 the National Library of South Africa signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the British Library.
This memorandum was renewed in February this year, where the British Library committed to train the staff from the National Library of South Africa in the areas of digitization and preservation.
We are also pleased that as a result of our interactions on the cultural front, thirty South African curators were trained at different museums in the United Kingdom since 2006.
In 2010, in my capacity as the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, I led a delegation to the United Kingdom on a fact finding mission in support of our initiative to establish a National Skills Academy for the Creative Industries in South Africa.
In 2011, we launched a project to support South African playwrights. This we did in partnership with the British Council, Sustained Theater from the UK and Wits University.
Last year South Africa was represented at the Edinburgh Festival, where as the Department of Arts and Culture, we supported eight companies to perform at that Festival.
During the period of the Festival we attended the Edinburgh International Culture Summit, where valuable insights were exchanged on the role of the arts in supporting economic development.
So today, Programme Director, we are singing this Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate further and more meaningful interaction on the cultural front between our people.
We sign this memorandum fully aware that arts and culture is a powerful tool that can be used to break down barriers between people, but also support economic development.
Through this Memorandum of Understanding, we will specifically focus on among others;
- Sharing experiences intended to promote and develop the creative industries in both our countries
- Establishment of links between arts festivals in both our countries
- Collaboration between artists and arts institutions and
- Artistic exchanges as well as joint publications.
Programme Director, we sign this Memorandum of Understanding at a time when our country prepares to celebrate the 19th Anniversary of freedom and democracy on April 27th.
Of significance is that we will use this year’s Freedom Day celebrations to launch a year long build-up programme leading up to the historic 20th Anniversary of freedom and democracy.
As we celebrate our 20th Anniversary of liberation, we hope to be joined by the peoples of the world, many of whom have made it possible for us to achieve our freedom and to sustain it for two decades.
We count the people of the United Kingdom among those who stood by us in our darkest hour and therefore share with us the freedom we enjoy today.
This is particularly significant because as both countries we have agreed that next year, in 2014, we will host the South Africa - United Kingdom Seasons.
We believe the Seasons will provide an opportunity to celebrate our respective countries achievements and most importantly to use culture to strengthen further development for both our peoples.
Let the relations between South Africa and the United Kingdom grow from strength to strength.