State of the Nation Debate

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04 Jun 2009

Honourable speaker
President Jacob Zuma
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces
Your Excellencies
Distinguished guests and comrades
Ladies and gentlemen

The African National Congress (ANC) remains guided by the Freedom Charter that states “the doors of learning and culture shall be opened! The government shall discover, develop and encourage national talent for the enhancement of our cultural life. All the cultural treasures of mankind shall be open to all, by free exchange of books, ideas and contact with other lands.”

It is this knowledge and understanding that only freedom of expression and freedom of creativity can serve to deepen democracy and that only free and fruitful exchange can build a more unified and dynamic society that underpin the ANC’s policy on culture.

Yesterday President Zuma gave us a call to build a more cohesive society.

The President reminded us that our vision remains that “of an inclusive society, a South Africa that belongs to all, a nation united in its diversity” and “a people working together for the greater good of all.”

Let us embrace his rallying cry that we continue this mission of promoting unity in diversity and developing a shared value system, “based on the spirit of community solidarity and a caring society.”

Now our task must be to strengthen the gains of our national democratic revolution and to continue to work towards a truly non-racial, non-sexist and united South Africa.

In this regard, arts, culture and heritage play a significant contribution to social regeneration, unity and reconciliation. As we transform our country, we need to ensure that we build cohesive, sustainable and caring communities.

The Department of Arts and Culture is tasked to lead and coordinate efforts to promote national identity and social cohesion.

We pledge our full support to the campaign to celebrate and commemorate Mandela Day on 18 July every year. We call upon all South Africans to spend 67 minutes of their time on this day doing good deeds in the spirit of Ubuntu, serving their communities and assisting others in order to strengthen our values and our resolve to provide access to a better life.

Social cohesion

* I wish to report to you that in the next quarter we shall consolidate our work in building a more cohesive society and in nurturing our people’s culture
* We shall pool our efforts into encouraging national dialogue and community mobilisation towards a more caring society
* In the second half of the year we shall hold the first national conference on social cohesion that will be hosted in KwaZulu-Natal. The theme of the conference is “building a caring society.”
* This conference is intended to strengthen relations between civil society, government and the academic community and to highlight community participation in bringing about a more unified South African society. We envisage that the Conference will come up with a national framework to foster social cohesion leading to a concrete national plan of action.

* Building a people’s culture and arts for all
* We shall continue to strive to make the arts accessible to all
* We shall focus our attention on what needs to be done to amend legislation as well as to modify policies in order to create a more enabling environment for the flourishing of the arts
* We shall look at ways of strengthening the work of our councils and institutions so that they can better serve the needs of our people
* Through our national legacy projects, the department is broadening access to heritage resources in the country. The Sarah Bartmann project in particular seeks also to provide opportunities for South African architects to design a memorial and interpretation centre in the Eastern Cape
* We shall also promote the people’s arts within our communities and especially our rural areas, including community arts centres, local theatre groups, music groups, local cultural forms of expression and creative work in all our national languages, including traditional dance and music, oral poetry and literature.
* We shall improve arts, culture and heritage education and training programmes by placing 400 artists in schools and Community Arts Centres. We shall also assist with programmes at community arts centres
* We shall increase access to arts, culture and heritage by providing at least one programme for women, children and people with disabilities at all 27 arts, culture and heritage institutions

Investing in culture

We need to invest in such a way that our investment results in thriving communities who ultimately can stand on their own and grow.

Culture must be rooted in the realities of our people, in the daily lives, struggles and victories. Creative industries are critical for our country and for nation-building. They create critical opportunities to uplift and empower our people, especially the youth.

We shall work together to ensure that we use these opportunities to do more and to create a better life for all our people including youth, women and people with disabilities.

We shall focus on creating sustainable jobs through supporting initiatives in training, skills development and by expanding opportunities for cultural workers. We are also eager to expand our contribution to economic growth.

The arts, culture and heritage sector prides itself about its potential to create sustainable jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities even in areas where people have minimum or no formal education.

* We shall work towards the nurturing of sustainable jobs in the sector and be part of a national effort that seeks to alleviate poverty
* During the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) phase one, the department through the “investing in culture” programme has created and afforded 7 374 job opportunities to beneficiaries. Of these 51 percent are women, 44 percent youth and five percent people with disabilities
* In the next five years, we will redouble our efforts to match the expansion requirements for the EPWP phase two in promoting sustainable job opportunities and ensuring skills transfer for unemployed arts, culture and heritage practitioners
* We shall place particular emphasis on encouraging women in rural communities to produce high quality products for both domestic and export markets. This year the department established the annual national craft awards where no fewer than 60 crafters across the 9 provinces received awards and recognition for their contribution for craft development. Through the national craft awards the Department of Arts and Culture hopes that South African craft and crafters will become global players and will develop high quality products for export
* Our private sector partners have also been instrumental in providing infrastructure for display of locally produced products; and we intend strengthening these public-private partnerships in the near future.

Libraries and literature for all

* In our efforts to bring arts and literature to our people in all our communities, the department is engaged in the recapitalisation of community libraries. This focuses on extending library services to previously disadvantaged areas, including rural areas
* The department is also encouraging the development of reading material in all official languages. The National Library is republishing classics in African literature. Thus far 24 classics have been published, including the work of AC Jordan and the National Library is now embarking on the second phase of this project. This will include, among others, the Sesotho classic Chaka by Thomas Mofolo and Insila kaShaka by John Langalibele Dube
* We are also awarding language bursaries, especially in African languages, to help build capacity in the language profession
* We shall continue to work together on the matter of name changes of towns and cities. It is in our collective interest that part of our freedom must be not only we but also the liberation of places and other geographical areas.

Promoting local content

We continue to encourage the development of local content. We call on South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to do more to support local content and local artists.

Investing in culture is also investing in artists and creating enabling conditions for our artists to lead healthy, long, productive and prosperous life.

The other challenge that faces us in this sector is the fact that the entertainment industry is dominated by a few multinationals, which dominate and profit, yet cultural workers who are the real creators of music, films, drama, poetry, in our country are exploited throughout their lives and they end up being given a pauper’s funeral.

We shall work with unions and artists to strive towards making social security a reality for the arts community.

We must work together to fight for transformation and equity in the creative and entertainment industry. We must work together towards transforming the entire industry, where black artists also have ownership right through the value chain of this important industry where black artists (not multinationals and business managers) decide what to produce or create.

It is important that our interventions assist in Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) in the arts and heritage sector. We can also do this by developing co-operative production facilities, which can also provide employment opportunities for more artists

We must also guard against the use of fake tapes, of photocopied books, of unauthorised copying of any kind. This can be done by strengthening our policies and systems to ensure those artists and their productions are protected.

In line with our vision of developing sustainable cultural industries, the DAC bought the Downtown Music Hub in November 2008 from Gallo/Avusa. We believe that the music hub will become a unique and innovative music production entity that will empower all stakeholders in the music industry especially previous disadvantaged artists.

The hub will be a partnership involving corporate and community based entities. We believe that working together with our artists and the private sector, we can do more in creating a better life for all in the arts.

2010 legacy projects

As South Africa prepares to welcome guests to the Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, let us recognise that the cultural component is also very important in sharing our arts and culture with our visitors and creating a legacy for the future.

The department has initiated projects that seek to document the history and culture of host cities in South Africa and in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region as a whole.

Arts in the international arena

* We shall also pay special attention to South co-operation. We shall continue to be part of projects that foster relations between Africa and its Diaspora
* South Africa is also preparing to send artistic delegations to forthcoming arts festivals, among these, the 2nd Pan African Cultural festival to be held in Algeria in July and the Festival of World Black Arts to be held in Senegal in December
* We have seen the great success of the first New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) cultural project in January this year, with the launching of the new library building for the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu, Mali. The South Africa–Mali project should also pave the way for further NEPAD cultural projects that seek to preserve ancient heritage for the purpose of new and future generations
* Our government must do all it can to draw lessons from relevant international experiences. In Cuba, as early as 1959, several new cultural institutions were founded that became important to the development of arts and culture across Latin America. These include Casa de las Americas, the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Arts and Industry (ICAIC), the National Theatre, the National Ballet, the National Symphonic Orchestra and the National Folkloric Group, to mention but a few
* The national literacy campaign also raised Cuban capacity to fully engage in arts and culture. These developments enhanced the life of the Cuban people, but what has characterised cultural development in Cuba mostly, is the massive participation and access to art and culture that is available to the Cuban people. I believe that through our “art for all” campaign, we can achieve the same goals, working together with our artists and cultural workers
* The South African government has played and will continue to play an active role in promoting the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions. My predecessor, Dr Pallo Jordan, was a champion of this convention, believing that cultural diversity is the living expression of our very humanity.

We shall build on the firm foundation that Dr Jordan and his Deputy Minister Ntombazana Botha established in the past five years. They worked hard to build a new department and give it a new vision.

We shall continue to deepen democracy through cultural diplomacy, building a better South Africa in a better Africa in a better world. Because only in this way do we ensure that all the cultural treasures of humanity shall be open to all.

I thank you.

For more information contact:
Lisa Combrinck
Cell: 082 821 4886