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DAC has a responsibility to highlight the creativity and diversity of SA designers, develop innovation and grow the business potential of the country whilst nurturing an appreciation of locally design products in the minds of SA consumers. The Department has also identified that design will assist in developing a sustainable creative environment in the provinces for designers and to further expose them on a national level so that they can reach an international Standard and be globally competitive. 

It is also the role of the Department to create awareness of design as a diverse sector and promote South African design both locally and internationally. The design Unit is also tasked with  addressing the overall development of the design sector and ensuring integrated, equitable and inclusive programmes for designers in all the design disciplines whilst at the same time formulating and implementing an all inclusive design strategy for South African creatives that will promote job

Design is situated as business and entrepreneurial activities in global economies. Economies that have a strong design and innovation culture and use their human resources and creativity to develop and market products using indigenous technology are the most successful.

The Department of Arts and Culture has over the years put in place several initiatives to improve design and create design awareness.

These include:

  • Developing a design sector strategy

• a partnership with South African Fashion Week on developmental initiatives to fuse fashion and craft address job creation

• the National Product Development Centre at the CSIR, which operates within a national framework, optimising the contributions of service-providers throughout the country in the field of design technology

• the CAD initiative at the CSIR, which is linked to the technology station at the Free State University of Technology and similar institutions in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape

• the Cape Craft and Design Institute

•the awarding of design learnerships through Create SA to assist and support emerging designers

  • Jewellery initiatives to address the demographics of the jewellery sector.

• the annual Emerging Creatives programme and Young Designers Simulcast that the DAC supports at the annual Design Indaba Conference and Expo held in Cape Town in February. The indaba is regarded as one of the premier design events in the world. The 2011 Design Indaba attracted 379 exhibitors and some 38 000 visitors. It contributed R261 million to GDP, up from R232 million in 2010 and R191 million in 2009.

The Department of Arts and Culture supports a number of projects that promote the Design. These range from skills programmes and women and youth empowerment programmes to national and international exhibitions and infrastructure funding. The current projects are:

Developing a design sector strategy

The department has produced a reaserach into the design sector in 2007 to develop a sector strategy which is currently being updated. The department will engage with the sector and all strategic partners towards formulating a strategy that will provide an outline for the practical implementation of the design strategy. Among the core objectives of cultural development is to promote cultural industries sector development strategy to drive industry competitiveness and economic growth. The DAC research will shed light on the challenges and strengths of the industry.

MODILA – ACE Outreach Programme

As an intended repository of cultural knowledge and a platform for creative, innovative and socially progressive projects, exhibitions and public debates, MoDILA is deeply concerned with the position of the youth as an important audience constituent. Without a future generation that is engaged and aware in cultural, artistic, creative and innovative practice and issues, the museum cannot adequately exist and reason its existence. It is for this reason that MoDILA has created the flagship programme ACE – the Academy of Creative Excellence – to tackle particular needs linked to the museum through specific activities aligned with our design values, mission and goals.

ACE is an educational platform created to inspire youth (14-19 years) with creative potential to transform themselves and the world around them using leadership, entrepreneurial and design skills. This vulnerable demographic is a key part of unlocking future talent in the creative and entrepreneurial economy. With chronic unemployment amongst the youth and a poor entrepreneurial culture as compared to global competitors, ACE offers a tangible foothold in the creative economy for future generations by drawing adolescents from different class groups and various locations across Cape Town into workshops that reinforce social cohesion. The Flagship Programme aims to bridge social, economic and creative divides between privileged and previously disadvantaged adolescents, by connecting selected learners from disparate backgrounds in a programme equipping them with leadership, entrepreneurial, design and creative skills, and access to mentors and industry opportunities.

Thuthuka Jewellery Design Competition

The Thuthuka Jewellery & Product Development skills Programme is a partnership between the Department of Arts and Culture and various jewellery design schools, industry and community groups towards contributing to the design abilities of young talented designers wanting to enter the jewellery trade in South Africa. It is a programme to balance the demographics of the jewellery sector.

The programme has grown over the years. Thuthuka is focussed on radically up skilling the design talents in community jewellery schools. Students in these schools are trained primarily as bench workers to feed the jewellery manufacturing industry. Little attention is given to design, yet an extraordinary pool of talent exists in these schools. Thuthuka aims to create a unique, South African aesthetic in contemporary jewellery design.  Originality, innovation and excellence are the main objectives.

Emerging Creatives

An important developmental aspect of Design Indaba in partnership with the Dept of Arts and Culture is the identification and development of emerging creatives in the following sectors: architecture, advertising, craft, decor, film, fashion, floral design, graphic design, interior design, photography, jewellery, new media, publishing, product design and visual art. The emerging creative could be either a student in the creative faculty at a tertiary institution in South Africa, or a designer in the industry who is in the process of establishing their own design service/business. Although the programme is aimed at development, the emerging designer is identified by the standard and quality of their work, because the platform at which they are represented is curated and has both national and international exposure. The main objective is to grow and encourage the number of successful designers the Country produces, which in turn leads to the creation of much needed jobs and economic opportunities.