Arts and Culture Affairs

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Theatre |   Music  | Dance |  Visual Arts  | Rock Arts  | Photography |  Architecture  | Craft |  Literature |  Film


South Africa’s arts and culture are as varied as one might expect from such a diverse nation. The blend of local cultures and diverse influences make for a melting pot of creativity that never disappoints.

As custodians of South Africa’s diverse cultural, artistic and linguistic heritage, the Department of Arts and Culture aims to develop and preserve South African culture to ensure social cohesion and nation-building.

South Africa’s cultural and creative industry is a good revenue generator, and still has great potential to produce more and contribute to job creation.

The Cultural Industries Growth Strategy capitalises on the economic potential of the craft, music, film, publishing and design industries.

The Department of Arts and Culture provides support in the form of financing, management capacity, advocacy and networking, and by developing public-private partnerships and other initiatives that use culture as a tool for urban regeneration.

Worldwide, the turnover of cultural industries makes this the fifth-largest economic sector, which comprises design, the performing arts, dance, film, television, multimedia, cultural heritage, cultural tourism, visual arts, crafts, music and publishing.

The Department has entered into partnerships with significant stakeholders to map the cultural industries.

Cabinet has identified the creative and cultural industries as one of the drivers of economic growth and job creation in the implementation of the New Growth Path.

The Industrial Policy Action Plan 2 identifies the cultural industries, in particular the craft sector, music, jewellery production, clothing, leather, footwear and textiles as some of the sectors that will be subjected to focused and significant support by the State.

Read more

Visual Arts

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. 


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. 

The audiovisual industry has been identified by the South African government as a key driver of job creation within the creative industries in South Africa. The Ipap strategy declares that “The film and TV industry is a strategic sector not only because it has the potential to contribute directly to economic development in terms of employment, investment and export, but also it has a range of significant spill-over potential”.


South Africa has a colourful, diverse and vibrant craft sector. One of the strengths of the country’s crafts is its distinctiveness/uniqueness. The basketry from South Africa is recognisable from anywhere in the world. A person who is familiar with the Ilala grass woven baskets from KwaZulu-Natal will know them wherever they might see them in the world. So is the basketry from the Free State and Limpopo. Such is the character of our crafts in that they tend to a great extent to take on the geographic and traditional inspiration of particular areas of our country.

Books and Publishing

The Department of Arts and Culture established the Books and Publishing unit in 2004. The unit is a component of the Cultural Development section whose strategic focus is the advancement of the economic potential of creative industries to contribute job creation, reduction of poverty and skills development.

Technical Services

In 2005 the department commissioned a feasibility study into the Events and Technical Services (E&TS) sector. This included a research conducted by independent researchers and a subsequent consultation process conducted by a Team (E&TSTT) which was established to engage with sector stakeholders to further interrogate the findings of the research through a series of Indaba held in all 9 Provinces attended by 770 active industry players and culminating into a 2nd National Events Indaba in 2006.


Music is one of the biggest sectors within the broader creative industries. It is also an important contributor to nation building and social cohesion. South Africa is the 25th-largest market for recorded music, with the industry employing more than 20 000 people. Local music accounts for a third of all the music bought by South Africans.

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

The Performing Arts Sub-Directorate is guided by the excepts of the Vision and Mission of the Department: to develop and promote arts and culture in South Africa and mainstream its role in social development and job creation. The Sub-Directorate focuses on all the Performing Arts disciplines such Dance, Drama, Music, Poetry and comedy, its genres and performing arts practitioners. The Su-Directorate also provides a supporting role to other Units in the department.

In order to achieve the mission with regards to development and promotion, the Performing Arts Sub-Directorate  plays a major role during the official national days such as Human Rights Day, Freedom Day, Youth Day, Mandela Day, Womens’Day,  Heritage Day and Day of Reconciliation; by creating a platform to promote  the artistic work of South African  performing Arts practitioners. That entails various disciplines

Performing Arts Programs

  • Development of the National Performing Arts practitioners Data-Base and Webpage. The database will benefit the Performing Arts practitioners by providing a network to share information such as available training programmes, workshops, marketing, local and international events. This will broaden their accessibility and job opportunities and enable them to network with other local and international organisations in the sector. It will also have an impact on policy and strategic development by assisting DAC with skills audit. It will be easier for DAC to be able to identify and develop programs, for the sector as guided by the skills and information on the data.
  • Development of the Dance and Theatre sectors strategy that will inform the policy. The study has already being conducted in all the nine provinces. A national report on Dance and Theatre sectors has been consolidated and will be presented and discussed during the Dance and Theatre National Conference by November 2013. The conference is meant for the both sectors practitioners, academia and the three spheres of government (Department of Arts and Culture).


Contact details: tel 012 441 3000. Deputy Directors, Ms Susan Selepe: and


Dance has become a prime means of artistic expression, with dance companies expanding and exploring new territory.

Music and dance are pulling in new audiences and a number of home-grown productions, particularly those aimed at the popular market, have taken South Africa and, in some cases, the world, by storm.

Contemporary work ranges from normal preconceptions of movement and performance art or performance theatre to the completely unconventional.


The theatre scene in South Africa is vibrant, with many active spaces across the country offering everything from indigenous drama, music, dance, cabaret and satire, to West End and Broadway hits, classical music, opera and ballet.

South African theatre is internationally acclaimed as unique and top class.

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Mzansi Golden Economy Funding

The Department sends out a call for proposals on key MGE work streams once a year  that is made available on the website with all relevant information.

For more information regarding funding for different disciplines within arts, culture and heritage sectors please contact the following institutions:

National Arts Council (NAC)
66 Wolhuter Street (cnr Pim Street). Newtown
Po box 500 
Newtown 2113
Tel 011 838 1383
Fax 011 838 6363

For more information click here NAC funding guidelines

Business and Arts South Africa (BASA)
163 Jan Smuts Avenue
P O Box 962
Tel: 011 447 2295
Fax: 011 447 2364

For more information click here:

BASA Supporting Grant Scheme

National Heritage Council (NHC)
57 Kasteel Road 
Lynwood Glen
Tel:  012 348 1663
Fax: 012 348 2833

National Film and Video Foundation
Private Bag x 04, Northlands 2116
Tel: 011 483 0 880
Fax: 011 483 0 881

For more information click here: NFVF Fund



Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Arts and Culture Trust (ACT)

The ACT is the oldest funding agency in South Africa. It was established to secure financial and other resources for arts, culture and heritage; and to promote the needs and role of the sector in the public domain. Its vision is to establish a self-sustaining perpetual fund for the development of arts, culture and heritage in South Africa.

The ACT is responsible for:

  • developing and promoting arts, culture and heritage in general
  • advancing artists and cultural and heritage practitioners
  • promoting arts, cultural and heritage education
  • constructing facilities and creating and developing an infrastructure for these purposes.

Due regard is given to ensuring a spread of projects across all the cultural and artistic disciplines, including, but not limited to, arts administration, arts education, community art, festivals, heritage, craft, fine art, dance, music, theatre, literature, multidisciplinary and new media.

Several capacity-building and sustainability initiatives have been supported by the ACT Building Blocks Programme.

The annual ACT Awards recognise the significant contributions made by communities, artists, administrators, educators and journalists towards the development and advancement of arts and culture in South Africa.

Postal Address:

PO Box 31309

Tel: (011) 712 8403

Fax: (086) 622 9896




Printer-friendly versionSend by email

PanSalb is a constitutional organisation that was established in 1995 to support and safeguard the language rights of all South Africans.

In terms of Section 4 of the PanSalb Act, 1995 (Act 59 of 1995), the board is an independent

organ of state, subject only to the Constitution and its founding legislation, and must perform its duties without fear, favour or prejudice.

PanSalb is mandated to, among other things:

  • make recommendations with regard to any proposed or existing legislation, practice or policy dealing directly or indirectly with language matters at any level of government
  • promote awareness of multilingualism as a national resource
  • promote the development of previously marginalised Languages
  • initiate studies and research aimed at promoting and creating conditions for the development and use of:
    • all the official languages of South Africa
    • the Khoi, Nama and San languages
    • Sign Language
  • promote and ensure respect for all other languages commonly used by communities in South Africa
  • facilitate cooperation with language-planning agencies outside South Africa
  • establish provincial language committees and national language bodies to advise it on any language matter affecting a province or a specific language
  • establish national lexicography units.

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

World heritage in South Africa

South Africa is home to eight of the world's official heritage sites, as determined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee.

The committee seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of "outstanding value to humanity".

Internationally, there are 851 World Heritage sites in 141 countries (as of April 2008). South Africa has a total of eight - four cultural, three natural and one mixed (cultural and natural) site. Starting with the first site added to the list, ending with the latest, these are:

  • iSimangaliso Wetland Park
  • Robben Island
  • Fossil Hominid sites of South Africa
  • Maloti Drakensberg Park
  • Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
  • Cape Floral Region
  • Vredefort Dome
  • Richtersveld Cultural Landscape

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

World heritage in South Africa

South Africa is home to eight of the world's official heritage sites, as determined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee.

The committee seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of "outstanding value to humanity".

Internationally, there are 851 World Heritage sites in 141 countries (as of April 2008). South Africa has a total of eight - four cultural, three natural and one mixed (cultural and natural) site. Starting with the first site added to the list, ending with the latest, these are:

  • iSimangaliso Wetland Park
  • Robben Island
  • Fossil Hominid sites of South Africa
  • Maloti Drakensberg Park
  • Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
  • Cape Floral Region
  • Vredefort Dome
  • Richtersveld Cultural Landscape

Robben Island

Year inscribed: 1999
Location: Western Cape, 33º 48' S 18º 22' E
Type: Cultural heritage

Robben Island is most famous as the place where Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected president of South Africa, was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years in jail. The island has since become a symbol of the triumph of democracy and freedom over oppression.

Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape

Year inscribed: 2003
Location: Limpopo province, 22º 11' 33" S 29º 14' 20" E
Type: Cultural heritage

Mapungubwe - "place of the stone of wisdom" - was South Africa's first kingdom, and developed into the subcontinent's largest realm, lasting for 400 years before it was abandoned in the 14th century. Its highly sophisticated people traded gold and ivory with China, India and Egypt.

Cape Flora Region

Year inscribed: 2004
Location: Western and Eastern Cape, 34º 10' S 18º 22' 30" E
Type: Natural heritage

The Cape Floral Region takes up only 0.04% of the world's land area, yet contains an astonishing 3% percent of its plant species. This makes it one of the richest areas for plants in the world and one of the globe's 18 biodiversity hot spots.

Vredefort Dome

The Vredefort Dome, approximately 120 kilometres south west of Johannesburg, is the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world. It is believed that a meteorite, some 10 kilometres wide and larger than Table Mountain, fell to earth an estimated 2 000 million years ago. The force of the impact opened up a crater, which is about 40 kilometres wide.


Maloti Drakensberg Park

Year inscribed: extension 2013
Location: KwaZulu-Natal, 29º 23' S 29º 32' 26" E
Type: Mixed cultural and natural heritage

The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park has outstanding natural beauty, Africa's highest mountain range south of Kilimanjaro, and the largest and most concentrated series of rock art paintings in Africa - making it a World Heritage site of both natural and cultural significance.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Year inscribed: 1999
Location: KwaZulu-Natal, 27º 50' 20" S 32º 33' E
Type: Natural heritage

On 1 November 2007, South Africa's first World Heritage Site, the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, was given a new name that better reflects its unique African identity: the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Fossil Hominid Sites

Cradle of Humankind

Year inscribed: 1999, 2005
Location: Gauteng, Limpopo and North West, 25º 55' 45" S 27º 47' 20" E
Type: Cultural heritage

Known in South Africa as the Cradle of Humankind, the region of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and environs has one of the world's richest concentrations of hominid fossils, evidence of human evolution over the last 3.5-million years.

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape

Location: Northern Cape Province. Declared a World Heritage Site in June 2007

The Richtersveld Culural and Botanical Landscape is located in South Africa’s northern Namaqualand. The area is a prime example of the most interesting megaecostem in the world and comprises of 160 000 hectares. The dramatic desert scenery shifts from flat sandy plains, to craggy sharp mountains of volcanic rock, to the lush flood plains of the Orange River. This river forms the border between South Africa and neighbouring Namibia.

The landscape is arid and only the hardiest of life forms survive there.Temperatures are extreme, and in summer temperatures can reach over 50°C. Rain very seldom falls. The Richtersveld depends on the cold nights producing moisture in the form of heavy dew. The early morning fog is so thick that the locals call it

‘Ihuries’, or ‘Malmokkie’ and it makes survival possible for a range of small reptiles, birds and mammals including grey rhebok, duiker, steenbok, klipspringer, kudu, Hartman’s mountain Zebra, baboon, velvet monkey, caracal and leopard.

The area is also home to an impressive 650 plant species. It has the world’s largest diversity of succulents and a number of unusual plants, many of which are found nowhere else on earth. For example, the ‘Halfmensboom’, the ‘half-person tree’, takes the shape of a human. This tree is revered by the indigenous Nama people who inhabit the area, along side others. The Nama people believe that this tree is the embodiment of their ancestors, half human, half plant, mourning for their ancient Namibian home. The Richtersveld is the last place where the traditional way of life of the KhoiKhoi (of whom the Nama are the surviving clan), survives to any great extent today.

Photo: Courtesy of SA Tourism

For more information: UNESCO

Living Heritage

Living Heritage is the foundation of most communities in S.A. and an essential source of identity and continuity. Aspects of Living Heritage may include: Cultural tradition, Oral history, Performance, Ritual, Popular memory, Skills and techniques, Indigenous knowledge system and the holistic approach to nature, society and social relationships. In South Africa the term Intangible Cultural Heritage is used interchangeably with the term Living Heritage.

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Arts refers to individually or collectively created products of value, the expression or application of creative skill and imagination in the various branches of creative activity such as painting, sculpture, music, dance, theatre, films, graphic arts etc.

Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.

Heritage refers to valued property such as historic buildings, artwork, books and manuscripts and other artefacts that have been passed down from previous generations. They are of special value and are worthy of preservation.

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

You may visit the Provincial or National Archives and make enquiries there and will be helped to research your family history. You can call the National Archives of South Africa at 012 441 3200.

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

The need for a Community Arts Centres is driven through local government. Communities must raise these need when consultations for the Integrated Development Planning (IDP) happen. It should be a priority of a Municipality to build one. There are particular funds that are available through the Cooperative Governance Ministry. An Infrastructure Grant for example is accessible for a municipal that wants to venture into community buildings/public amenities.

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

The Bureau of Heraldry which is located together with the National Archives in Hamilton Street, Pretoria is the unit that can assist. A Coat of Arms is developed for a town, city, province or country. The Bureau of Heraldry has documented the Coats of Arms for most of the places in South Africa. They would therefore advise you as to whether the symbols you wish to use have been used by another entity or not. You would also have to register the Coat of Arms with the Bureau of Heraldry once it is completed.
You can call the National Archives of South Africa at 012 441 3200.