Visual Arts represents the legacy and heritage of our people, and therefore should be collected, conserved and protected for their direct benefit. Institutions, agencies and structures that are created to support and manage visual arts, must be grounded in the belief that they exist to serve the public, both as the public currently exists, and as it may be defined in the future. Department of Arts and Culture has identified the Visual Arts as an important sub-sector of the creative industries in terms of its potential for economic development and social-cultural empowerment.
It is also the role of the Department to promote South African visual arts internationally. This is not only for participation in events such as biennales and other exhibitions but for South African visual art pieces to be taken up in the collections of major museums and galleries abroad. The more South African art works are exhibited in foreign countries, the more interest there will be for individual collectors to invest in a South African art work, resulting in increased activity and production of art works by South African artists.
The visual arts sector has a turnover of nearly R2 billion a year. An estimated 17 000 people work in the sector.
Art galleries in South Africa’s major cities (such as the Durban Art Gallery in KwaZulu-Natal; the Johannesburg Art Gallery in Gauteng; the South African National Gallery in Cape Town; and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in Port
Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape) display collections of indigenous, historical and contemporary work.
Universities also play an important role in acquiring artwork of national interest. These include collections housed in the Gertrude Posel Gallery of the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of South Africa Gallery in Pretoria, the Edoardo Villa Museum and other galleries at the University of Pretoria, and a collection of contemporary Indian art at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Corporate collections of national interest include those of Standard Bank, Absa and the MTN cellular phone network.
The Department of Arts and Culture supports a number of projects that promote the visual arts.
These range from arts publications and women empowerment programmes to national and international exhibitions and infrastructure funding.
The Department of Arts and Culture’s art collection has been restored and the works are displayed in the building occupied by the department.