MEC Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba: Northern Cape Artist Summit

Keynote address of the MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba at the Northern Cape Artist Summit held in Upington at the Eiland Resort

Programme Director

Speaker of the ZFM District Municipality Mr. Moalosi

Speaker of the Dawid Kruiper Municipality Mr. Segedi

General Secretary of CCIFSA Mr. Phemelo Sediti

Mr. V Ndima National Department of Arts and Culture

Officials from the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture

And most importantly all the Artists of the Northern Cape

Members of the Media

Good Morning , Goeie Middag , Dumela , Molweni

Artists, receive my fraternal and revolutionary greetings. It is my honour to address you at the inaugural Northern Cape Artist Summit which I firmly believe will be one of the most important platforms created where we will be taking cultural affairs to the next level in the Province.

I would like to begin by thanking everyone for coming to this gathering. The amount of interest generated in the request to attend the artist summit is testimony to the seriousness which artists regard the issues at hand. I am delighted to be in the presence of so many artists. It is not every day that you find such a diverse caliber of great minds under one roof.

Ladies and Gentlemen

It seems that Artists live a life of continuous struggle and seemingly their struggles are continuing. During the days of the liberation struggle they used their music, paintings, storytelling and drama to ensure that the cruelty of apartheid is heard and seen by the world and the cry for freedom reverberated across the world.

They did this to inspire social change and capture the painful rhythms, the aspirations as well as the agonies of our communities. We can therefore never forget the role that artists played in raising the consciousness of our people during the liberation struggle. Artists became the target of the security forces, subjected to torture, banning orders, and banishment from their country of birth.

The truth is that even apartheid did not manage to kill the spirit of the people.

As we celebrate twenty three years of freedom and democracy, our artists still find themselves in a different struggle, a struggle of recognition, a struggle of economic empowerment and a struggle for self sustainability.

It is based on this that we find ourselves here today where we will review the role of artists in society and continue to try and address their challenges. We consume art on a daily basis, yet artists often struggle to make a living despite the popularity of their work.

The Summit which will be held over the next two days is exactly about that. We are here to celebrate your work, listen to your concerns and together find solutions to existing problems. I am convinced that artists are the ones who can find solutions to their challenges. Our role as government is to create an enabling environment to augment your initiatives. We do so by creating structures and developing policies that support the growth of the industry.

As we are gathered at the Artist Summit our approach should be that all delegates , for a change, be freed from bureaucratic procedures, enjoy the benefits of equality and shared responsibility by taking off your shoes and jackets and just be your usual artist and free spirited selves! Let us actively participate in all the deliberations without any fear or favour as we believe this is a festival of ideas that must be characterised and underpinned by frank, open and robust discussions. We must tell no lies, we must mask to difficulties, and we must claim no easy victories.

The Northern Cape Artist Summit will not be a talk shop where resolutions are taken and not implemented. The resolutions of the summit will be effected into the Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Sport , Arts and Culture and so doing we will be a position to monitor the implementation of the resolutions on a quarterly basis . The summit will also not be a once off affair , it will be become an annual planning session on the calendar of the department.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The platform created by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and CIFSA is also paramount as it creates networking engagements where we can explore opportunities collaboratively to build on our social capital and support each other in our mutual goals.

In the wake of our struggling economic situation, it is our duty to become more innovative in our business. If the funds are too limited to support our artists financially, we need to go the extra mile in creating an enabling environment in which artists of all forms can flourish. These engagements are not only pivotal but essential if we are serious about inspiring change through cultural affairs as it unites, fosters tolerance, acceptance, builds civic pride and community participation. All of which is much needed at present.

Indeed, artists are the custodians of the nation’s soul and are better able to articulate and celebrate South Africa’s cultural diversity.

As rightly captured in our National Development Plan, the arts, culture and heritage sector is pivotal to nation building and social cohesion.

This is the role and responsibility that we have placed on you as the sector: to redefine the soul of this new nation and use your talent and skills for radical consciousness towards economic transformation. The South African government recognises the significant role played by the art sector in nation building, promoting social cohesion, reconciliation and supporting economic growth and job creation.

Compatriots

The social and cultural necessity for artists must be coupled with its importance as a key creative industry and contributor to our economic wealth. The importance of the creative industries in particular to South Africa’s economy cannot be under-estimated.

I believe what should emanate from one of the commissions is a provincial mapping study that identifies and looks at the various arts organisations and businesses in the province.

This mapping process should be able to outline to the Provincial Government of the Northern Cape what impact the creative economy has on the Province and where best our interventions should be to grow initiatives and provide support.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the industry cannot grow without the production of high quality work by the artists. One of the challenges that have been highlighted is the fact that the industry is fragmented and do not speak with one voice. The primary objective of CCIFSA is to organise and unify the creative sector, to this effect I am challenging the Cultural and Creative Industries Federation to start with processes whereby the all artists are registered and join the federation. Yes it is a daunting task with many challenges, but I believe it is achievable.

As former President Nelson Mandela eloquently stated It always seems impossible until it’s done

Ladies and Gentlemen, no artist should expect hand-outs from government. We want artists to work for themselves and earn their stripes.

However in doing so, as government we should ensure that artists are rotated at festivals such as the Diamond and Dorings, Gariep, Kalahari Fees etc. We have to ensure through consultation with festival organisers that the artist line-ups are as diverse as possible and that artists are appointed on merit. We must also bear in mind that arts and culture is not just entertainment.

Without pre-empting the discussions over the next two days, I just hope that this Summit will interrogate some of the challenges that face the industry at large. I hope that we will have candid discussions that will not only be about lamenting the difficulty that artists find themselves in, but also sharing of success stories that can be emulated.

In conclusion, I once again express my gratitude to all the artists that graced this occasion today.

We acknowledge the sterling contribution that you have made in facilitating nation building and promoting social cohesion. May you endure in critical debating and robust engagements which will lead to concrete resolutions that will revive and rebuild a sector that is a catalyst for nation building and social cohesion.

Thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa