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Thursday, 22 March 2018   (0 Comments)
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Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa addresses the SACO conference in March 2018

Initiated by the Department of Arts and Culture, through the Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy (2011), the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) is a statistical and socio-economic research institute, launched in 2015, which charts the socio-economic impact of the arts, culture and heritage (ACH) sectors and the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) in South Africa.

They use a range of innovative statistical methodologies, audits and research tools to understand our creative economy. Their main purpose is the development of a comprehensive cultural information system which continuously captures cultural data and monitors and evaluates government initiatives in the ACH sectors and CCIs. The SACO is headquartered in Nelson Mandela Bay – hosted by
Nelson Mandela University on behalf of the Department of Arts and Culture, in partnership with Rhodes University and the University of Fort Hare – but operates nationally analysing the CCIs and ACH sectors.

Latest news:

SACO conference pulls creative economy into sharp focus

Under the theme, ‘Beyond the Creative Economy? Trends and Issues in National and Regional Economies’, the cultural think-tank’s two-day conference in March 2018 tackled big debates surrounding the current realities and future directions of the creative economy.

Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa on the cultural and creative industries:

“As government we recognise the potential of the cultural and creative industries as a socially transformative sector that provides jobs, drives innovation and allows many young people to make a living from their talent. This is what makes these sectors and industries golden.” Read the full address here

For more reports on the conference:

Employment, job creation and the transformative power of creativity were some of the key issues discussed on day one at the SACO 2018 international conference. Read more here

Day two of the SACO 2018 international conference delivered on its promise of deep analysis and critical and creative debates on the future of South Africa’s and the world’s creative economy.
Read more here

SA’s cultural goods exports growing faster than imports – research

A new report which set out to examine the growth and structure of South Africa’s cultural and creative industries trade between 2007 and 2016 has been released by SACO.

“In South Africa, cultural goods exports accounted for 0.46% of the country’s total commodity exports in 2016, while cultural goods imports accounted for 0.66% of total commodity imports. Despite a significant slowdown in South Africa’s total cultural goods trade in 2015, in line with slower growth in the economy more broadly, there was evidence of a comfortable recovery in 2016. Cultural goods exports grew faster than cultural goods imports for much of the post-crisis period, reducing the country’s trade imbalance in cultural goods markedly. The Visual Arts and Crafts domain was a significant driver of this trend.”

Read more

Employment report reveals potential for creative economy job creation, transformation


Over one million, or 6,72% of all South African jobs, are housed in the broader ‘Cultural Economy’. This is according to an employment report released by SACO this month.

“New statistical data compiled has highlighted the potential of the creative and cultural industries (CCIs) to drive employment, job transformation and economic growth in the country. The study, which used the
2015 Labour Market Dynamics Survey data, mapped employment in South Africa’s CCIs revealed that the ‘Cultural Economy’, which includes cultural and non-cultural practitioners working within South Africa’s creative industry, made up just over 6.7% of all employment in the country.”


The findings were based on people working in sectors traditionally classed as cultural or creative such as fine art, performing art, film, museum, libraries, music, and craft as well as the more commercial sectors such as designers, architects, advertising and computer programming.

Key findings:

  • In 2015, cultural occupations made up 2.52% of all employment in SA
  • Including non-cultural ‘support’ occupations, the CCIs employed 4.2% of all those who had a job in 2015.
  • Altogether, the ‘Cultural Economy’ accounts for an estimated 6.72% of all employment in South Africa.

Click here for the full report

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