Programme Director, Mr Peter Ndoro
The Editor of The New Age, Mr Moegsien Williams
Our partners the SABC and Transnet
MECS here present and local Government representatives
The Director General, Mr Sibusiso Xaba and your management team
Chairpersons of our Boards and Councils
CEO’s of our agencies and institutions
Fellow South Africans.
Over the past weekend, we received the good news that the founding father of our nation, former President Nelson Mandela, was discharged from hospital. We take this opportunity once again to wish Tata Madiba well as he recovers at home. Even in sickness, Tata Madiba continues to unite our nation and remains an enduring symbol of our freedom and democracy.
To deepen his proud legacy, on the 18th of August, together with the Department of Sport and Recreation, we hosted a successful Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day; bringing South Africans together, in celebration of our unity in diversity. Work is at an advanced stage to erect and mount a statue of Tata Madiba at the Union Buildings, as part of its centenary celebrations.
Fellow South Africans, September is Heritage month; a month to celebrate our common heritage. The Theme for this year’s Heritage Month is Reclaiming, Restoring and Celebrating our Living Heritage. This theme is a call to recognise the importance of our tangible heritage; our museums, commemorative sites and interpretation centers, in building an inclusive society.
Since 1994, we have built new museums, monuments and commemorative sites as part of crafting a new and inclusive narrative for our country. These include Freedom Park in Tshwane, the Ncome museum in KwaZulu-Natal, the Matola Memorial and Interpretation center in Mozambique, the Steve Biko center in Ginsberg and the Nelson Mandela museum in Mthatha.
We have also built a road linking the Voortrekker Monument to the Freedom Park; symbolising a new era of cooperation between the two heritage institutions. During this Month we will convene a two day Khoi and San Heritage Summit. This we will do as part of our ongoing work to integrate the stories, the struggles and the ways of life of Khoi and San communities into our nation’s heritage.
This year’s National Heritage Day will be hosted in the Eastern Cape in Mdantsane. We call on all South Africans to be part of this event. National Book Week Yesterday we marked the start of this year’s National Book Week; featuring activities across the country aimed at encouraging a culture of reading and writing. Taking part in this year’s National Book Week are prominent authors such as Zakes Mda, Sindiwe Magoma, Deon Meyer and Gcina Mhlophe.
Social Cohesion and Nation Building
In July last year, we convened the National Summit on Social Cohesion and Nation Building, in Kliptown; the birth place of the Freedom Charter.Delegates at the Summit committed themselves to building a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it; Black and White, united in our diversity.
They called for the creation of a proud and caring society! They agreed on a programme of action to be implemented by all stakeholders. The programme includes working together to implement the National Development Plan, vision 2030; building a society based on Ubuntu, redress, transformation and social justice as well as building capacity for socio-economic transformation.
Since the summit, we have appointed Social Cohesion Advocates; eminent South Africans drawn from all sectors of society who will drive our social cohesion programme. They include Judge Yvone Mokgoro, Advocate George Bizos, Dr Frene Ginwala, Barbara Masekela and Ahmed Kathrada.
We also convened thirty community conversations in all provinces to report back on the Summit resolutions.The North West is the first province to hold a Provincial Summit on Social Cohesion. KwaZulu-Natal will follow in November. Other provinces should hold their provincial summits by the end of the financial year.Twentieth Anniversary of Freedom and Democracy next year, South Africa will celebrate twenty years of Freedom and Democracy.
We are working with our Social Cohesion Advocates in implementing a build-up programme towards celebrating this mile stone. Part of this programme is our partnership with Lead SA and Proudly South African, to launch Freedom Fridays, on the 20th of September this year.
Freedom Fridays is a call to all South Africans to take pride in their South Africanises and together to celebrate the road they have travelled since 1994. This we will do by wearing, every Friday, anything that expresses our pride in being South African; including colours of the national flag, traditional wear or a jersey of our favourite national team.
Progress in implementing Mzansi Golden Economy In 2011, stakeholders from our sector gathered at the Newtown Cultural Precinct for the National Summit on the Role of Arts, Culture and Heritage in the Economy. The Summit laid the basis for the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) Strategy, we are implementing with our stakeholders.
Through MGE, we are channelling large scale investment into our sector, to unleash its potential to contribute, even more, to social cohesion, nation building and economic empowerment. At the center of this Strategy is the goal of creating hundred and fifty thousand jobs and promoting growth in the sector.
In the last financial year, we created or sustained over fifty thousand permanent and temporary jobs in our sector.We continue to support twenty two major cultural events across the country. These include the Cape Town International Jazz festival, the Buyel’eKhaya festival, the Joy of Jazz, the Mangaung African Cultural festival and the Kalahari Desert festival.
In addition to bringing people together, these events make a major contribution to the economies of the host cities and towns. Our programme to establish Cultural Precincts across the country is on course. In this regard, we have made major capital investments in refurbishing and upgrading some of the anchor performing arts institutions, which will form part of the Precincts. These include Arts Cape in Cape Town, The Market Theatre Foundation in Johannesburg and the Playhouse Company in Durban.
We invested thirteen million rands in the Ray Alexander Memory centre, in Gugulethu, Cape Town. This is a first phase of a precinct that will encompass a theatre, heritage sites, monuments, a shopping complex and recreational facilities.
In White River, Mpumalanga, a site for a Cultural Precinct has been identified, and work will begin soon to develop the site. We are making progress in bringing back arts education in schools. This year, we will place two hundred artists in schools, to work as arts facilitators.
We are making important strides towards the establishment of a National Skills Academy for the creative industries; a centre of excellence encompassing the total spectrum of the training needs of our sector. We spent some time on the design and development of the concept for the Academy. We have now finalised the design requirements and will identify a site for the Academy by the end of this year.
We will also be concluding the necessary stakeholder agreements and begin sourcing funding for the Academy. By the end of this financial year, our Sourcing Enterprise, whose purpose is to link cultural products and performances, including those from rural areas, to key markets, will be launched.
Processes are underway to secure cabinet approval for the establishment of an Art Bank, as a mechanism for the procurement and rental of art works for display in government and other public buildings, including our embassies. We are proceeding with the establishment of a Touring Venture, to provide a platform for productions to tour locally and internationally.
The core of the touring venture, to date, has been the development of large and small scale international platforms; including the South African season at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and the France, South Africa Season 2013.
Last year, our season in Edinburgh was well received. In particular the theatre production, Mies Julie was the audience favourite at the Fringe festival. The France, South Africa Season has equally been successful, with hundred and fifteen projects implemented and more than nine hundred South African artists taking part.
The season has drawn record attendances and award winning productions. We are planning further seasons with the United Kingdom, China, Russia, Angola and Nigeria, to further expose our artist to international markets. We have set aside funding for the establishment of a cultural observatory; to collect and analyse statistics relevant to our sector.
We have already developed indicators for Mzansi Golden Economy and the conceptual framework for cultural statistics, aligned to the UNESCO Framework Review of the White Paper.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have begun a process to review the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage. This review will assist us to better organise, structure and fund our sector. We look forward to continued engagements with our stakeholders as we proceed with the review process. We have also established a Music Task Team as well as a Local Content Task Team.
Respectively, these teams will make recommendations on how to address the challenges facing the music industry, including piracy and the issue of royalties, and to ensure that we increase local content on our television screens and radio. We believe the recommendations of the Task Teams will go a long way in addressing some of the pressing challenges facing our sector.
Fellow South Africans, although we still face major challenges, the South Africa of today is a better place than it was before 1994. Going forward, let us join hands and deepen the gains we have made thus far. As directed by the National Development Plan, vision 2030 let us work towards a society where we say to one another: I cannot be without you, without you this South African community is an incomplete community, without one single person, without one single group, we are not the best we can be.