Economic Mapping of the Cultural and Creative Industries in South Africa 2020

The South African Cultural Observatory has released the results of its economic research on the contribution of the cultural and creative industries to the SA economy. The study, titled The Economic Mapping of the Cultural and Creative Industries in South Africa 2020, reveals several significant findings about the industry. Key amongst these is the sector’s 1.7% or R74.4 billion direct contribution to the GDP.

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.

SACO Executive Director, Unathi Lutshaba said, “as our society grapples with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important that we have a full grasp of the various sectors that drive our economic and social life as this will assist policy makers and society at large in shaping our response and interventions, especially those meant to benefit the sector”.

“This report is thus instructive in us understanding the economics of the cultural and creative sector”, added Lutshaba.

The report shows that if indirect and induced (multiplier) effects are included, the cultural economy accounts for R241.8 billion or an equivalence of 5.6% of the GDP.

 For the period under study, the cultural economy grew by 2.4% as opposed to 1.1% for the rest of the economy. “When we consider the sluggish growth of our economy, what this tells us is that there is a huge potential for the sector to contribute in arresting the economic decline, and thus can employ large numbers of people”, said Vusumuzi Mkhize, DG for the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture DG.

While various countries might have their own definitions of what constitutes cultural and creative industries, the United Nations Framework for Cultural Statistics defines the cultural and creative industries to include the following cultural domains:

Cultural and Natural Heritage domain

Performance and Celebration domain

Visual Arts and Crafts domain

Books and Press domain

Audio-Visual and Interactive Media domain

Design and Creative Services domain

Cultural workers are employed across the various sub-sectors but the majority or 50% of the occupations are in design and creative services.

Another interesting fact from the report is that cultural occupations are becoming more racially representative over time, with 84% of people in cultural jobs in 2017 being black (including African, coloured, or people of Indian or Asian descent). Young people in cultural occupations are also more racially representative than older groups, indicating ongoing sector transformation.

SA’s cultural goods exports grew at 14.6% per year between 2015-2018, making up 0.47% of SA’s total commodity exports in 2018 (up from 0.37% in 2015). The largest positive trade balance for 2018 was in the Visual Arts and Crafts domain, which also had the fastest growth in the value of cultural goods exports in recent times (31.9% between 2017 and 2018). The UNCTAD Creative Economy Outlook report (2018) also showed that South Africa is amongst the top 10 developing country exporters of visual arts.

The report notes that while still dominated by the three provinces with the largest cities (Gauteng, Western Cape and KZN), cultural employment is also becoming more evenly spread to other, more rural, but faster growing provinces.

Challenges that remain are the gender bias, evident in the lower proportion of women, particularly young women, working in cultural occupations, as well as their generally lower earnings than men in cultural occupations. Policies that encourage and enable more women to work in the cultural sector could dramatically increase their job creation potential.

“Research work such as this provides the Department with the relevant tools to assist in the formulation of well-considered policies and interventions for the sector”, concluded Mkhize.

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