Minister Jordan Budget Vote Speech, Room E249, Parliament, Cape Town
Comrades and Friends,
I rise to move the budget for the Department of Arts and Culture at a time of deep humiliation. South Africa and her people have been profoundly shamed before the world and the African continent as a result of the actions of what in reality were a few hundred xenophobic individuals, who are a tiny minority of our population..
There are no excuses and there is no acceptable explanation for these xenophobic attacks that have targeted the humble dwellings, the businesses and the very persons of fellow Africans merely because they were born outside South Africa's borders.
This violence, in words and in deeds, is totally unacceptable and must be unequivocally condemned as barbaric. Even as we bow our heads in condolences for those who have lost their lives we must make a collective vow, Never, never again!
We commend the actions of the thousands of ordinary South Africans who have given assistance to, sheltered and protected the victims of this violence. We compliment our government, at all three tiers, for its efforts to offer shelter, warmth, food and protection for those driven from their homes. The true face of South Africa, the humanity and warmth of our nation was expressed in the actions of thousands – including primary and high school pupils – who have responded to this crisis with profound generosity.
We congratulate also the law enforcement services of our country for the manner in which they have responded, arresting and charging those responsible for these brutal acts of xenophobia.
Yet, this is not a moment to be despondent. We seize this moment to be introspective; to examine critically what we as a Ministry and as a Department of Arts and Culture have achieved since the last time I stood here; to weigh our shortcomings and our successes. The terrible violence we have witnessed in our country, I think, requires us all to discover what is it that has gone so terribly wrong that South African citizens could be reduced to acting against other human beings with such callous cruelty.
Glaring Problems in the Arts and Culture Sector.
Virtually the whole arts community was deeply embarrassed by the incident at the Naledi Theatre Awards of this year, The acrimonious exchanges among those working in theatre said a great deal about the deficiencies in a discipline in performing arts that many feel remains un-affected by the tumultuous changes the South African polity has undergone over the last one and half decades.
Though the Department of Arts and Culture actually provided the seed funding to get them off the ground and lent its support to the Naledi Theatre Awards for the years 2005 to 2007, in my continuing dialogue with the organisers I have repeatedly expressed a deep sense of unease. The DAC did not offer the Naledi Theatre Awards any financial support this year.
We have tried to convey the sense of alienation the overwhelming majority of our people feel towards theatre the principals of Naledi. That alienation exploded on the night of the awards and the days that followed. It is regrettable that it required such incidents before theatre operators, owners and repertory companies could take to heart what seemed rather obvious: That theatre in South Africa has no future if the majority of potential theatre audiences find it irrelevant.
It is facile to critique and point fingers at the stakeholders in theatre. The country and, I am certain, the thespians and South African public require solutions. The DAC will be taking the initiative to convene a workshop on theatre in this country by way of contributing to the search for answers to the issues so volubly raised at the Naledi Awards. The experience of the rest of the African continent should also inform such discussions.
This applies equally to the alarming deterioration in the management of the Robben Island Museum. After the Museum received two consecutive negative reports from the Auditor General, the Council has instituted a forensic audit that has uncovered shocking mismanagement. The law will take its course in the instance that any trace of corruption is discovered.
It is important to acknowledge the challenges faced by the Robben Island Museum and the management thereof. It is also quite essential to take cognizance of the role played by the DAC in developing mechanisms to help the institution to deal with these challenges. A 12 months strategy to address the current challenges has been developed, and is being implemented as of June 2008. This strategy will not only stabilize the institution but will also elevate its efficiency and management strategy.
Yet another forensic report on the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS) will very likely lead to prosecutions. I want to commend the council for its timeous intervention that put an end to the rot. The abuses in Bloemfontein are a warning that our controls are not rigourous enough.
The medieval city of Mapungubwe has also been dragged into controversy by claims and counter-claims, all of which are probably of equal validity. The arguments around it demonstrate a deep misunderstanding of how we should relate to our ancient civilizations. By declaring Mapungubwe first a national heritage site, we affirmed that it belongs to us all, as South Africans. When that site was embraced as a world heritage site, the international community laid equal claim to it as part of the human family's collective heritage. For one or other section of the South African nation to lay exclusive claim to it reduces and diminishes its status, no matter the intentions of the claimants.
Over these last twelve months we succeeded in stabilising the African World Heritage Fund. This South African initiative continues to attract funding support from the international community.# The Department of Arts and Culture contributed R 5million for the 2007/2008 financial year and is in the process of transferring another final tranche of R5million for this current financial year. This follows a decision in 2006 when cabinet approved that South Africa contribute through the Departments of Arts and Culture, Environmental Affairs and Tourism and Education in equal shares of R 20 million each. Currently the funds for the AWHF housed at DBSA amount to R 34,572,870 ($4,5million) and following the Advocacy meeting in Nigeria, Abuja a further amount of $2million was pledged by Egypt and Nigeria which will then increase the funds to R 61,462,880 ($8million). Further, initiatives are being implemented to raise funds. These funds are towards the operationalisation of the Fund.
Through UNESCO, South Africa is playing a significant role in shaping the international cultural landscape. This vindicates our strategy for international relations which seeks to place South Africa among the key players in global cultural affairs. South Africa has honed her skills on the issues of cultural diversity, intangible heritage and indigenous knowledge. In the person of Professor Asmal, we safely piloted the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions through the councils of UNESCO, in the teeth of vigorous opposition from the world's only super power. I would once again like to acknowledge Professor Asmal's contribution. South Africa is now a party to the Convention and – in the person of Professor Abdel-Kader Asmal - was elected to serve on the Intergovernmental Committee of the Convention for 4 years.
Our international cooperation has also grown exponentially. Beginning April this year, we have put a number of South African acts on the stages of China. In marking ten years of bilateral relations we have mounted a major cultural expo in China this year, including the performing arts, fashion design, film and crafts.
Together with India, Brazil is an important strategic partner in South African diplomacy. We have strengthened our relations with Brazil and participated in the Art Mundi Craft Exhibition that took place in Sao Paulo during 2007.We hosted the IBSA Summit last September, culminating in a Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Cooperation among South Africa, India and Brazil. During a visit to India in December 2007 we renewed our Programme of Cooperation which will shortly be signed. To mark the visit, I officially opened a visual arts exhibition, “Scratches on the Face”, that was mounted in New Delhi and Mumbai.
South Africa's relations with the rest of the world contribute very directly to the well being of our people. The numerous Africans from beyond our borders who have settled here add to the cultural and ethnic diversity of our country and bring with them important skills, specialised knowledge and technique that are needed for the growth and success of our economy. On closer scrutiny we find that far from competing with South Africans over scarce resources, African immigrants have contributed to South Africa's human resource base and are imparting valuable technical skills to the native population.
It is highly commendable that, in response to the wave of xenophobia violence, our artists have launched the “Not in My Lifetime” campaign castigating xenophobia and racism.
Reading, Writing, Literature and Libraries.
My Department established and launched the South African Book Development Council two years ago. A culture of reading books is desperately needed in South Africa if our country is to fulfil its potential. More readers would lead directly to the growth of the publishing industry. We have been able to consolidate industry indicators that are fundamental to the development of the book publishing sector. The net turnover of the book sector in South Africa was estimated at about R5-billion in 2007:
• About R3,2-billion earned through publishing;
• R1, 8-billion from book sales.
The second Cape Town International Book Fair, in June 2007, attracted almost 50 000 people from all over the world. We believe that number will increase this year. Publishing is and will continue to be a profitable business.
Publishing literature in the indigenous languages is self-evidently an area with the greatest growth potential. The reluctance of the mainstream publishing industry to venture into African language publishing has convinced of the need to intervene. I have therefore allocated a substantial budget to the National Library to fund its project to reprint literary classics written in our indigenous languages.
Through advertising on the electronic and print media, the public have been invited to identify and recommend titles they would like to see republished. There is already enthusiastic debate and intellectual discourse about the definition of “a classic.”
Books in the indigenous languages will be a critical vehicle for developing and preserving our languages and literature and will enhance social cohesion. As Ngugi Wa Thiongo maintains “language is the vehicle of a people’s culture and heritage”.
This publishing project will officially be launched when we open the new National Library building in August.
The library sector will, figuratively, have its new home when the new building for the National Library in Pretoria is officially opened. It will provide a state-of-the-art flagship for the library sector. Already, the National Library is making its presence felt through the publication of the first catalogue of works in the nine indigenous languages. A second volume is in the pipeline. The spacious and well equipped National Library is a major investment in the nation’s future. The expansion of our library services and facilitation of public access to them remain critical elements in making South Africa a successful and well-performing country.
We are increasing the allocation to libraries by R180 million, to R380 million for 2008.
South Africa successfully hosted the World Library and Information Congress in Durban in August 2007. More than 4 000 library and information specialists from across the world attended. Significantly this was the biggest turn out of African librarians at any such gathering. 2007 year also marked the first year of the three year community library conditional grant of R1 billion. The Library sector, led by the National Library and the National Council for Library and Information Services (NCLIS), is drafting its Transformation Charter. The National Council for Library and Information Services has ensured that the process is consultative and is as representative as possible. They are expected to complete their work by end of next month, July. Other legislation we are planning includes drafting a South African Community Libraries Bill to set the norms and standards for a transformed community library sector. This bill will be tabled in Parliament in 2009.
Well equipped libraries that are located within easy reach of the public can play the additional role of being information and cultural centres. During 2007 the National English Literary Museum (NELM) in Grahamstown mounted a successful exhibition celebrating the centenary of the first African language novel published: Thomas Mofolo’s “Moeti oa Bochabela”, “The Traveller to the East”. The event coincided with African Book Week at the biggest cultural festival in the southern hemisphere, the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. South Africa's a rich literary heritage earned us the privilege of hosting the coveted Commonwealth Writer’s Prize in Franschhoek a few weeks ago. We were chosen from among 53 Commonwealth countries to be the second African country – after Ghana – to play host. The Commonwealth’s Culture and Diversity Programme encourages understanding and respect among different peoples and cultures. Numerous South African winners, including Nadine Gordimer, JM Coetzee, Zakes Mda, Sello K. Duiker, Maxine Case and Shaun Johnson have ensured that we take our rightful place on the world literary stage.
My department has supported the establishment of “Baobab” a new literary journal for South African writing. Our objective is to create a regular publishing platform for emergent South African writers where they can sharpen their skills by vigorous interaction with the peers and seniors. The first issue will include seasoned writers such as Lewis Nkosi, Kole Omotoso, Nontsizi Mgqwetho, alongside the young and vibrant voices of Gabeba Baderoon, Zukiswa Wanner and Palesa Mazamisa. The younger generation of writers continues to make its imprint on the world stage, with the works of writers like Zakes Mda, Niq Mhlongo and the late K. Sello Duiker being translated into Dutch, German and Spanish. National Language Service. The work of the National Language Services in the DAC continues to assist the marginalized indigenous languages to come centre stage. To promote multilingualism the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) is involved in the development of human language technology applications. This will enhance indigenous languages thereby empowering the native speakers. The development of spellcheckers and machine-aided translation tools will in their turn contribute to consistency and quality of documents rendered in or translated into all official languages. The development and management of new terminology is also critical for improving scientific and technical communication by developing the vocabulary that will equip these languages to function beyond their traditional domains. The DAC bursary scheme to encourage the academic study of African languages is gathering momentum. At the end of 2007, 49 post-graduate students had won the scholarship; and
30 under-graduate students obtained degrees thanks to this scholarship.
As the DAC, we are working hard to facilitate the establishment of a South African Language Practitioners’ Council, to regulate the language profession. A professional body will elevate the status of language practitioners in general and ensure that an acceptable standard of service is provided by interpreters and translators. Amendments to the National Archives Act and to the Heraldry Act are also being prepared.
Heritage and Museums.
When I assumed office as Minister in 2004, the budget of the DAC was very badly tilted in favour of the Heritage Sector that used more than sixty per cent of the budget. Over the past four years we have managed to reduce this by twenty percent, so that only forty two percent of our budget now goes towards heritage. It still looks high, but considering that these funds go towards the maintenance of bricks and mortar structures, this is inevitable.
We established an African chapter of the Memory of the World when South Africa hosted a successful conference of that organisation during 2007. An invaluable South African archival collection, the Rivonia Trial Collection, is to be included in the Memory of the World Register. A suitable ceremony, marking the 35th anniversary of that trial and the registration, will be held this year. The Timbuktu Manuscripts Project, one of the first NEPAD Programmes of Cultural cooperation, is scheduled to be completed this year. We hope that President Mbeki will be able to hand over the new library and archives building in Timbuktu to the people of Mali in November this year. We also look forward to the exhibition of Timbuktu manuscripts, which will tour the major centres in South Africa from this month, June.
“The Meanings of Timbuktu”, a collection of scholarly writings arising from an academic conference we hosted two years ago, is already on the shelves. As I noted the night we launched this book, its contents will compel us to revise our understanding of the history of this continent.
While we have done well, the major challenge in our own archives is the lack of specialised staff. We have undertaken a major survey to determine training needs for the sector. We have observed that the records management responsibilities of the National Archives have been particularly hard hit by staff shortages. The Department has also presented:
• The 2003 UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage. and
• The 2001 UNESCO Convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage,
to parliament and cabinet for ratification. We await the necessary parliament process to complete ratification. It is estimated that there are over 2500 shipwrecks, some dating as far back as the thirteenth century, in the seas along our coast. It is speculated that they came mainly from European states like the Netherlands, Spain, England and Portugal. But recent research suggests some might be Asian. It is our obligation, as global citizens, to preserve this heritage for future generations. Our cooperation agreements with a number of countries have given us access to important skills such as museology and curating. Bilateral Co-operation between South Africa and the United Kingdom has allowed South Africans to be trained within the Curatorial Training Programme. 20 curators have been trained at different museums in the UK since 2006. 10 more curators will be placed for the final curatorship training taking place in 2008/09. Also, the Third Bilateral Symposium/Workshop between South Africa and Germany took place in March 2008. The events took place in Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town. India and Germany have joined the list of countries that are sharing important skills with us in the field of arts and culture thanks to such cooperation agreements.
But South Africa’s Heritage Landscape still remains badly skewed and unrepresentative. The successful commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the SS Mendi, the 40th anniversary of the death of Chief Albert Luthuli, and the 30th anniversary of the murder to Steve Biko once again highlighted that reality.
A key recommendation of the policy review we undertook in 2006 is the development of a national museum policy that will, amongst other things, provide criteria for grading, systematic and adequate funding of museums, as well as setting norms and standards. Such a policy will also pronounce on other important aspects of museums such as research, the contribution they make to local economic development, and effective outreach to attract new and more representative clientele.
It gives me pleasure to announce that national public hearings on the standardization of geographical names were launched in Cape Town on 30 May 2008. This was an historic and momentous occasion. An event that is unprecedented in the history of this country. These hearings will help to facilitate a national dialogue on matters of the standardization of geographical place names. The nationwide public hearings are also one of various attempts to provide a platform for proper and effective consultation and communication.
Investing in Culture.
The single most important unit in the Department is its Investing In Culture Programme. This is our poverty eradication programme aimed at creating employment. Through it we hope to integrate crafters into the “first economy” by making them agents of change, economic transformation and the creation of opportunity. This flagship programme provides people with skills and has turned many into self-determining entrepreneurs who are now self employed. Three of the projects supported by this programme have won much-coveted prizes in the “Sowetan Old Mutual Community Builder of the Year Award”.
Since 2005 the programme has spent over R200-million to empower people to take charge of their own lives. It supports 394 projects, especially in the rural areas and has created 7 374 jobs: 45 % are for women; 39 % for youth; and 4 % for the disabled. The programme invested 40% of its funds in nodal municipalities in support of Integrated Sustainable Rural Development (ISRDP) and Urban Renewal programmes (URP) since 2005. 20% of the projects the programme supports have grown into SMMEs.
This has made it possible for the Department to participate in the Jobs for Growth Task Team that will establish the Mzantsi Stores amongst other major initiatives later this year as a means of breaking into high value markets. These Mzantsi Stores will also create myriad opportunities especially since our country is hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup. South African crafters have less than 737 days to produce world class goods, in great numbers, that can be souvenirs for the influx of tourists and football lovers who will arrive on our shores.
The Investing In Culture Programme will receive R100.06 million this year.
Music and Dance.
The Department funds a number of musical ensembles directly and indirectly, through the National Arts Council. We funded the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra to attend the Berlin Orchestral Conference in April and South Africa was invited to participate in the IBSA Cultural Festival held in Brazil in October 2007 where we were represented by the Phambili Marimba Cultural Group. In both instances our musicians acted as highly effective cultural ambassadors. The South African Musical Education Training programme and the MIAGI Youth Orchestra will also be funded this year.
Moshito – the music business conferencing and exhibition we have supported for the last five years – has grown by leaps and bounds. In addition to providing a platform where government, the music industry and artists can interact and conduct a continuing dialogue, Moshito has helped open South Africa up to the rest of the world. The launch of Association of Independent Record Companies of South Africa (AIRCO) will definitely chart a new paradigm for the recording industry and give artists easier access. I want to reiterate my call to both the established as well as the new independent record companies to explore in earnest the use of modern information and communications technology to reach the world audience. Many small companies in the USA and Brazil have done this to great effect. It is probably the fastest route to an international audience that is extremely cost effective into the bargain.
The small, independent music producers will struggle to reach global markets if they aster unwilling to explore this route. The DAC strengthened AIRCO by supporting it to attend Midem (World Music Market) to join discussion on global music industry development and other trends with their counterparts from United Kingdom, USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, the European Union, New Zealand, Brazil.
There can be no doubt that South African music has earned a strong position in the world market. The Soweto Gospel Choir won a Grammy for the second consecutive year, Fikile Mvinjelwa, an outstanding baritone from Cape Town, will be performing the lead in Rigoletto at the New York Metropolitan Opera. We congratulate them and the many other artists who have raised our flag and inspired pride among all of us.
After the successful establishment of the Cape Town Jazz Orchestra, we are investigating the establishment of yet another such ensemble in Johannesburg.
I have also used the Minister’s discretionary fund to actively promote excellence in music. Two extremely successful concerts, “Sistas Healing Our Souls”, featuring South Africa divas from the fifties, the sixties and the present, were staged here in Cape Town. We are also attempting a revival of the once popular genre of Mbaqanga, through the Cups Nkanuka Big Band which has performed to packed audiences in the townships and at Artscape.
We are committed to addressing the needs of young people, particularly young people who do not have ready access to economic opportunities. Towards this end we began the process of creating Youth Bands and can report that in this financial year we have amassed enough instruments to support the inception of bands in two provinces. These Youth Bands, will also serve as incubators for future musicians, will in time, be established in all provinces. South African Field Brass Bands are participating in festivals in Norway this year. We have also been very busy with plans to participate at the Expo Zaragoza 2008 Project in Spain. The Department will be responsible for the cultural programme content. This is an Inter-Department initiative, led by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, whose high-point will be South African Youth Day, June 16th.
We are working towards the development of a theatre and dance strategy for the development and sustainability of the sector. The project will culminate in the establishment of the National Committee to work hand in hand with Government on sustaining the sector. In the past year we undertook and concluded research on these sectors. This will be followed by theatre izimbizo’s in all the nine provinces. The purposes of these izimbizos will be to bring together the sector and gather information in preparation for a national conference where the theatre and dance sectors can nominate the National Theatre and Dance Working Committees.
While South Africans dance, we still do not have a national dance company. South African theatre has wowed the world, but we have no national theatre company.
In order to promote dance in our country and to give a higher profile to Dance, the theme for this year’s Heritage Month is Dance. To lend weight to this commitment, DAC will be making a grant to “Dance for All”, the development project started by Phillip Boyd and the late prima ballerina, Phyllis Spira. South Africa will be represented by The Eastern Cape Ensemble at an international dance festival in Byelorussia later this year.
The importance of these cultural exchanges is that it is a form of people-to-people diplomacy in which our creative artists communicate about us and our country to the rest of the world. The long term relationships that can thus be created involve not merely the arts communities of the respective countries, but through a deeper appreciation of each others cultures, rebound to the benefit of both societies.
South Africa’s encounter with China has seen visiting Chinese troupes and exhibitions come to South Africa almost annually. A visit by the Dutch Minister for European Affairs and International Cultural Cooperation, Frans Timmermans in February, coincided with the opening of the Marlene Dumas exhibition at the Standard Bank Gallery and the National Gallery here in Cape Town. Marlene Dumas is a south African born artist who is now based in Holland and is the highest-earning living female artist. One of her works sold for R25. 6 million in 2005. Officials of the Department and the South African Heritage Agency are working towards an international seminar on the Dutch language, at home and abroad, with their counterparts at the Dutch Embassy. The outcomes of that conference I hope will at long last put to rest the ridiculous claims about this governments antipathy towards Afrikaans.
Die Afrikaanse Taalmuseum en –monument is tans besig met ‘n navorsingsprojek wat fokus op die insameling van die kulturele erfenis van die Kamiesbergstreek. Die doel van die navorsing is om die gemeenskap bewus te maak van hul ryk kulturele erfenis; om gesprekvoering rondom kulturele- en erfenisvraagstukke aan te moedig; om ‘n bewustheid van kulturele erfenis te bevorder en sodoende ‘n bydrae te lewer tot die bewaring en uitbouing van die verskeie variante van Afrikaans (in hierdie geval Namakwa-Afrikaans). Daar word verder gepoog om die bevindings te dokumenteer sodat dit vir toekomstige navorsing toeganklik kan wees.
Visual Arts, Film and Video. South Africa continues to participate in the Cannes Film Festival as well as others that have helped to catapult our film industry into the world cinema fraternity. The Department is assisting the Federation of Pan-African Film Producers (FEPACI) while it is headquartered in South Africa, following the pan-African Film Summit that we hosted in 2006. This body provides a ‘creative home’ for film makers from the African continent and can serve as a marketing platform for African films on the continent.
South Africa has now risen from being a film-making destination to a film-producing country. However, the economics of film distribution and exhibition still gravely impair the capacity of our industry to produce high-earning block-busters. The National Film and Video Foundation have been promising for some time now to devise the strategy to break out of these constraints. We shall be embarking on an audit of the Visual Arts sector to identify areas for skills training, development, job creation and policy development. The Visual Century Project, conceived by the South African-born CEO of the National Arts Gallery in Oslo, Norway, is undertaking exhaustive research on the visual arts in South Africa over the last century. The project will involve exhibitions at all our major galleries, publications and documentary films. This exciting project could possibly result in a revisioning of the history of South African visual arts.
Women artists will be our special focus during August, Women’s month. A special award for outstanding Women visual artists will be inaugurated and there will be a special exhibition of their work at the Museum Africa.
There are a number of people who deserve special mention during this budget debate. I want to single out Ms Nicola Danby, who worked as CEO of Business Arts South Africa (BASA) and built it into an extremely effective funding body, and Mrs Mary Slack, another who was integrally involved with BASA since its inception. Both are retiring from BASA and on behalf of a grateful nation, I want to say thank you to both of them. Mr Phakamani Buthelezi, the CEO of SAHRA, under whose leadership the Heritage Rights Agency and the DAC have developed a very close working relationship. Ms Elitha van der Sandt, the CEO of the South African Book Development Council.
My thanks go too to Ms Ntombazana Botha, the Deputy Minister, on whom I lean when the going get rough. Mr Temba Wakashe, the new DG of Arts and Culture, who is proving worth his weight in gold, and the entire staff of the DAC working under his guidance. The personnel on the Ministerial Office, who have to bare the brunt of my changing moods, but whose good humour means that we can get things done.
I owe profound thanks also to Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile, my advisor, for whom I can blame every error I make.
Lastly, we salute the many, far too many – South African artists and performers who left us during the course of this past year. May their perseverance, their commitment and their talent continue to inspire us as we strive for a better South Africa in a better world.