Statement by DDG Monica Newton on behalf of Minister Nathi Mthethwa at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival Media Launch, Johannesburg

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27 Jan 2015

Master of Ceremonies

Councillor Garreth Bloor

Rev. Dr Vukile Mehana, Chair of ESPAfrika

Mr Billy Domingo, Festival Director

Members of the Media

Artists here present

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As the Department of Arts and Culture we are proud to be the official sponsor of the 16th edition of the much-loved Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

This Festival occupies a prominent space in the cultural calendar of all jazz lovers.

The Department supports this project as part of its Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) strategy which seeks to reposition the cultural industries in South Africa. This strategy enables the arts, culture and heritage sector to make a greater contribution to economic growth and job creation. This Festival is one of the cultural events supported through this strategy.

This Festival provides sustainable platforms for performing artists to showcase their arts and earn a living. Moreover, it also provides secondary and supportive jobs especially in the technical, tourism and transport sectors. The festival created more than 2,700 jobs in 2014 and provided business opportunities for 85 service providers.

In its efforts to entrench a sustainable global live music industry, its cultural base has continued to grow over the years.  

Live music in South Africa, particularly the live music festival market, is thriving. We have noted the real social and economic spin-offs brought by the Jazz Festival not only to Cape Town but also to the country as a whole.

The event brings together a diversity of people from all spheres and across all walks of life.   

Price Waterhouse Coopers Entertainment Outlook states that the South African live music industry was worth R928 million by consumer spending on concert and festival ticket sales and merchandise in 2012. This can only grow from strength to strength.

In the last twenty years the South African Government has continued to maintain the energy that propels us to ensure that creative and cultural industries reach their full potential.

We aim to balance supply and demand within the creative and cultural industries. We continue to support the music sector because of its immense contribution to nation building and to social and economic development. 

In the context of 20 Years of Freedom and Democracy we must continue to tell the stories that move South Africa forward and bring us together. This story cannot be told through books and documentaries alone but also through music that tells the stories of our lives. 

We know that music is a dynamic art form that is able to synthesize various traditions and sounds so that there is cultural and musical integration and coalescence.

African music takes both global and local strands and turns it into something new.

It is for this reason that people flock to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival - not just for the beauty of the city - but to encounter that which is beautiful and that which is new, and that which brings people closer together.

This is an important initiative because it also celebrates the music of those of us who come from a history of resistance to slavery, colonialism, segregation and apartheid and it demonstrates cultural resilience and building social cohesion through culture even in more recent times. 

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, though it takes place in venues around the streets of the city, is a national event hosted in the province of the Western Cape. It empowers diverse people to possess the city and to embrace its cultural legacy. This is also their homecoming.

Coined as “Africa’s grandest gathering”, this Festival presents a platform for the exploration of our African identity, and enables music lovers from the entire continent to congregate in Cape Town in the shadow of Table Mountain to play and perform together and produce new, emerging sounds. 

It also enables new generations of musicians to learn, mingle with and be mentored by other successful artists from all over the world.

Music influences us deeply and in a manner of speaking becomes the ‘Soul of our Nation’ leading us along more ethical and imaginative path ways to the future.

Through projects such as these, the Department has also ensured that there is a development programme for our young artists. This includes nurturing existing talent, providing masters classes and music business workshops as well as network opportunities aimed at encouraging a cross-fertilisation of business ideas.

The Department has just finalised a three year agreement for funding of the project and we are looking forward to developing our music sector through this initiative.

I would like to encourage music practitioners and revellers to book their place to attend the 2015 Cape Town International Jazz festival.

Through the participation of audiences, through an exchange of music and ideas, we will indeed tell the story that moves South Africa forward.

Let me conclude by wishing the organisers a successful 2015 Cape Town International Jazz Festival. 

I thank you and hope to see you at the Festival in March 2015.