Impact of COVID-19 on the Cultural and Creative Industries

In late March, soon after President Ramaphosa announced several measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus in the country, the South African Cultural Observatory undertook a study to evaluate the impact of Covid-19 and associated measures on the cultural and creative industries (CCIs).

This took the form of both the online survey and economic data analysis to find out what impact the measures were having on businesses and freelancers in the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs), the adaptation strategies that the sector was using, and the most useful kinds of support that could be provided. The survey ran from the 30th of March to the 4th of May 2020, and thus provides an early assessment of the impact of the shutdown on the sector.

The study shows an impact (without the induced impact) on total output of the Covid-19 shutdown on the CCIs is to be R53,3 billion. The sector shutdown is expected to reduce South Africa’s GDP (direct and indirect impact) by R R99,7 billion in 2020. 

Of those face-to-face operators who participated in the study, only 12% could continue with 50% or more of their normal business activities. At least 40% of those surveyed were using reserves to survive, while 21% were getting support from family and friends. While about 80% knew about the government support, only 25% were sure that they qualified for the grants.

Those who participated in the survey come from the performing arts, heritage, publishing, music, film and video, design, and support.

“We are hopeful that the report provides relevant insights about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and will jolt both decision makers in the public and private sector as well as the society at large to think deeply about the role we can all play to contribute in supporting the sector”, said SA Cultural Observatory Executive Director, Unathi Lutshaba,

The full report is attached and can be downloaded via the link

The South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) is a national research project of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) established in 2015 to conduct economic research and provide reliable, policy and sector relevant information about the economic value of the cultural and creative industries (CCIs). The project is coordinated and led by the Nelson Mandela University, in partnership with Rhodes University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the University of Fort Hare.

“We would also like to urge all that are interested in the sector to read The Economic Mapping of the Cultural and Creative Industries in South Africa 2020 that shows the economic contribution of the sector (pre-Covid-19 pandemic), employment in the sector and the international trade”, said Lutshaba. The report can be downloaded using the following link

Our research is guided by the United Nations Framework for Cultural Statistics which defines the sector to include the following domains:

  1. Cultural and Natural Heritage domain
  2. Performance and Celebration domain
  3. Visual Arts and Crafts domain
  4. Books and Press domain
  5. Audio-Visual and Interactive Media domain
  6. Design and Creative Services domain

“We are confident that the various research reports we continuously produce will enrich the debates, but more importantly inform critical decisions both by the sector and the various stakeholders involved in one or the other way in the sector”, concluded Lutshaba.