It is crucial that South Africa’s creative practitioners are able to critically evaluate projects and account for project impact, says the SACO.
This was the key lesson from a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) workshop hosted in Durban by the SACO for the creative community, academics, potential funders, government officials and researchers.
Monitoring and evaluation are crucial management tools used to help public and private funders to understand a project’s goals; evaluate marketing strategies; demonstrate accountable use of funds; engage stakeholders and demonstrate the value of arts to communities and audiences.
According to international best practice and research, the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) also have a vital role to play in economic growth, development and employment creation. Tracking the impact of public and private funding in the cultural sector helps to monitor policy and funding effectiveness and to identify high-potential sectors, according to SACO Chief Economist and Research Strategist, Professor Jen Snowball from Rhodes University.
Snowball said the aim of the workshop was to create a common language or framework for arts organisations and funders to express their values for the creative community to understand.
She emphasized the importance of the SACO’s recently developed ‘Monitoring & Evaluation Framework for Publicly Funded Arts, Culture and Heritage’, in helping creatives analyse the success – and failure – factors of projects. Snowball stressed that teamwork between organisers and funders was necessary and can be supported with better information.
“The workshop empowers various performing artists, arts managers, researchers and many more in the cultural and creative industry to identify, present and measure their values.
“The cultural and creative industries not only positively influence individuals in the industry, but create employment, boost the economy, increase tourism and promote sustainability,” she said.
In the conceptual framework of cultural value, cultural indicators can be used for setting targets, monitoring changes over time, and evaluating the effectiveness of various cultural policy strategies.
SACO Research Fellow Professor Geoff Antrobus said the workshop delivered information to individuals to help them assess and evaluate their projects in a way that would assist in securing funding.
“There was good response to the workshop and several students had the opportunity to share their projects with us,” he added.
Mphikeleli Mnguni, the Department of Arts and Culture SACO Project Manager, said he was keen to see many individuals from the cultural and creative industry practise and apply the M&E framework in their day-to-day activities.
“I was extremely happy with the attendees’ diverse knowledge about the arts and creative industries and to have received feedback from them of the benefits derived from the workshop,” he said.
Social cohesion advocate from KwaZulu-Natal and Director of the Institute of Afrikology at Durban University of Technology, Yaa Ashantewaa Archer Ngidi said: “My research role at the Institute of Afrikology looks at indicators of cohesion and provides a platform to performing artists, organisations, community leaders and many others involved in social cohesion programmes across the country.”
Ngidi said she attended the workshop to better understand the social cohesion and community development indicators such as artist/producer demographics; artist/producer origins; quality of life and well-being; and cultural offerings (local arts/heritage/languages) to see the gaps for more information to be sent to the cultural observatory.
“The workshop was extremely beneficial to view the methodologies behind the indicators that are being used and the impact it has on the M&E framework.”
Ntombi Mtolo a performing artist of Edge Drama Mix and part of an upcoming project ‘Give Thanks Films” has a passion for the theatre and entertainment industry.
“The workshop was of great benefit as it provided extensive information on how to go about preparing a proposal for funding. As performing artists we rely heavily on funding to have a noble name in the industry.”
Performing artist, stage manager, and former student of Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre, Ntombikhona Nyawose said the cultural and creative industry required many hours of hard work with the musical and drama directors; working with costumes, sound and lighting and overseeing the rehearsals.
“We, as performing artists, struggle for funding and the M&E workshop delivered information that was of great help to us to add to our proposals.”
To receive additional information on the cultural and creative industry was very useful, she said, adding financial assistance often made the difference between the success or failure of a production.