SA Cultural Observatory cited by the UN


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South African Cultural Observatory
South African Cultural Observatory

The South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) was given a boost with last week’s release of the UN’s Creative Economy Outlook and Country Profile report, giving the institution a fitting recognition.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report highlights the trends in the international trade in the cultural and creative industries, and provides profiles for different countries with respect to performance and contribution of these industries in the various economies.

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On the release of the report, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mukhisa Kituyi, commented that “the creative economy is recognized as a significant sector and a meaningful contributor to national gross domestic product. It has spurred innovation and knowledge transfer across all sectors of the economy and is a critical sector to foster inclusive development”.

“The creative economy has both commercial and cultural value. Acknowledgement of this dual worth has led governments worldwide to expand and develop their creative economies as part of economic diversification strategies and efforts to stimulate economic growth, prosperity and well-being”, added Kituyi.

Some key report highlights relevant to South Africa are the following:

  • In 2014, the National Department of Arts and Culture established the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) to map the socio-economic impact of the arts, culture and heritage (ACH) sectors and the cultural and creative industries (CCls) in South Africa using innovative statistical methodologies, audits and research tools.
  • South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) report on cultural employment in South Africa explores the role of the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCls) in facilitating job creation and economic growth in South Africa. The study, which used Statistics South Africa’s (StatsSA) Labour Force Dynamics Survey using annual data from 2008 to 2014, found that the cultural and creative industries account for 2.93 % of employment in South Africa. This equates to 443,778 jobs, slightly more mining, which makes up 2.83% of employment in the country.
  • A later study (2018 Mapping Study) found that in 2015, cultural occupations made up 2.52% of all employment in South Africa. The bigger cultural sector also provided employment in non-cultural ‘support’ occupations for 4.2% of all those who had a job in 2015, meaning that altogether, the ‘Cultural Economy’ accounted for an estimated 6.72% of all employment in South Africa.
  • The South African film industry is particularly important. According to the NFVF 2017 Economic Impact of the SA film industry report, the industry had a direct impact of R4.4 billion (about $31 million) on economic production, leading to a rise in total production in the economy of approximately R12.2 billion (about $92 million). 3
  • As an economic powerhouse on the continent, South Africa also plays an important regional role in profiling creative trade and influencing emerging creative industry trends.

SA Cultural Observatory Executive Director, Unathi Lutshaba said “we are extremely proud and humbled that an organisation of the stature of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has recognised the work that the Observatory has been doing since its 2014 establishment”.

“In comparison, we are a young organisation that has yet to fully develop. We are thus encouraged that our work has found resonance an organisation of the stature of the UN. With this recognition, we can only grow and continue to make a meaningful contribution to the cultural and creative industries sector in South Africa, given the sector’s role in the economy as demonstrated in the report”, added Lutshaba.

The importance of the sector cannot be underscored as SACO’s 2018 Mapping Study demonstrates. It shows that in South Africa, the cultural and creative industries contribute between 2.5 % and 3% to national GDP, and provide employment for 6,72% of the workforce.

The full report can be found and downloaded on the following link

For more information visit the SACO website or connect with SACO on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube.

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