Request for input into the draft arts and culture policy of the city of cape town

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This is the City of Cape Town’s draft Arts and Culture Policy which is being spearhead by the Arts and Culture Department. The policy is planned for completion by the end of 2013.

As part of this process we would like YOUR INPUT!

With World Design Capital approaching we believe the very making of a new policy should be a design led, collaborative exercise driven by collective engagement. The way you can help us with the design of the policy is as follows:

  • Turn on “Track Changes” – to be found under the “Review” ribbon on MS Word, by clicking on “track changes”

  • Change any wording you think needs to be changed, delete or add text. It should appear in a colour and be underlined. Do not accept changes at any point. To help you recognize this, we have turned it on. The track changes will look like this.

  • When you add text it will automatically appear in a colour. If you send it to others to add their comments, it will again appear in different colour/s. This is useful to show differing responses and can also be used to recognise your own specific input.

  • Where you don’t want to make changes, but have a point or feel more work is needed on a section, you may “comment”. Again in the “Review” ribbon click on “new comment” after highlighting a sentence or part of a sentence. You can then comment in the box. It will appear like this…

  • When you are done, save it. Rename your document: “Cultural Policy…” with your name inserted, and the date. eg: Cultural Policy Sipho Smith 100813. Then send it to us at

  • Ensure you add your name and contact details in the email and in the contact section on the following page.

  • When the draft policy is ready we will distribute it to you for comment.

Thank you for being part of this process and for your input.
















Contributors to fill in details here






Cape Town is a diverse and dynamic city, known for its unique cultural mix, dramatic landscape and its compelling location as a global meeting point between East and West and as a gateway to Africa. These attributes work together to stimulate local artistic ideas and talent while also drawing creative people to the city from across the continent and the world. The City of Cape Town administration (hereafter the “Council”) has an important role to play in capitalising on these assets by providing an enabling environment for the creative arts and cultural life to flourish.

But the role of arts and culture in the life of the city extends beyond the specific activities of professional artists and performers.

Recent studies confirm that the presence of a thriving creative scene significantly enhances the ‘liveability’ and quality of urban life in cities, which has notable positive spin-offs for economic competitiveness1. Moreover, international experience has shown that, in addition to creating jobs in the arts sector itself, a critical concentration of creative talent and enterprises results in increased openness and innovation in the broader society – both of which are essential for building a thriving knowledge economy2. This indicates a direct link between creativity and economic growth.

Arts and Culture also has an important role to play in stimulating Cape Town’s tourism and events industries, which together with related service industries account for 17% of economic activity in the Western Cape3. By emphasising the City’s unique cultural assets, and by facilitating major cultural events, Arts and Culture have a key role to play in positioning Cape Town as a city of global significance.

The revised Arts and Culture Policy will give emphasis to these while at the same time facilitate cultural activity in the city in a way that celebrates Cape Town’s distinctiveness and creates spaces in which Capetonians can reflect and express themselves. In a city that has suffered the divisions of apartheid, and in which many continue to live in poverty, the arts, culture and heritage have a vital role to play in promoting social cohesion by giving voice to the ‘lived lives’ of communities and encouraging social inclusion through local development projects.

The revised Arts & Culture policy makes important linkages with the strategic aims of the administration that are relevant to the work of the Arts and Culture Department, and the arts sector more generally; locates the proposed policy within the existing national, provincial and City regulatory frameworks; and identifies affected role-players and stakeholders.


Unless clearly inconsistent with the context in which the words are used, the following words and expressions shall have the meanings as assigned to them below:

Arts and Culture

For the purpose of this document Arts and Culture relates to all issues related to the arts, heritage, creative and cultural industries, design, cultural tourism, and cultural diversity – as defined below.


Arts refer to but are not restricted to all forms and traditions of dance, drama, music, music theatre, visual arts & culture, craft, design, written and oral literature and film, all of which serve as means for individual and collective creativity and expression through performance, execution, presentation, exhibition, transmission and study.

The art and science of designing and erecting buildings and creating public spaces. The artistic side is revealed by the form and meaningful originality that it presents. Architecture relates to the beauty of a city, town or country.

Books and Literature
This can refer to printed or digital books, including graphic novels and comic books. Literature can take the form of works of fiction or non-fiction and can include physical books, oral literature and electronic works.

An annual festival, involving processions, music, dancing, and the use of masquerade. Cape Town is home to vernacular carnival traditions rooted in historically marginalised communities, as well as more recently produced carnivals referencing public carnival performance globally.


“(The) City” refers to the communities within the municipality.


“Council” refers to the Municipality of the City of Cape Town.

An occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or skilled artistry. The term of describes the family of artistic practices within the decorative arts that are traditionally defined by their relationship to functional or utilitarian products (such as sculptural forms in the vessel tradition) or by their use of natural media such as wood, clay, glass, textiles and metal. Crafts often refer to studio pottery, metalwork, weaving, wood-turning and other forms of wood-working, glass-working and glass-blowing.

Is the open exploration and application of new ideas to generate original works of art and cultural products, functional creations, scientific inventions and technological innovation.

Creative Industries
Comprises a set of knowledge-based activities that use individual creativity, skill and talent as primary inputs to produce tangible and intangible goods and services, which are typically protected by copyright, and have the potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of this intellectual property. Examples include commercially distributed music, design, publishing, advertising and film.

Creative Economy
Is where creativity, knowledge, information and technology combine to become powerful engines driving economic growth.


Culture refers to the dynamic totality of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features which characterise a society or social group. It includes the arts & culture and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions, heritage and beliefs developed over time and subject to change.

Cultural Content

The symbolic meaning, artistic dimension and cultural values that originate from or express cultural identities.

Cultural Expressions
Those expressions arising from the creativity of groups, individuals and societies that have cultural content.

Cultural Diversity
The many ways in which the cultures of groups and societies find expression. These expressions are passed on within and among groups and societies. Cultural diversity is made manifest not only through the varied ways in which the cultural heritage of humanity is expressed, augmented and transmitted through the variety of cultural expressions, but also through diverse modes of artistic creation, production, dissemination, distribution and enjoyment, whatever the means of technologies used.

Cultural Goods and Services
Those goods and services that embody or convey cultural expressions or cultural content irrespective of the commercial value they may have.

Cultural Heritage
Monuments, groups of buildings and sites from the past that constitute a witness to the cultural expressions of ancient communities.

Cultural Industries
Are those cultural activities that produce cultural goods and services through a process of commercialisation.

Cultural Tourism
The movement of persons to cultural attractions away from their normal place of residence with the intention to gather new information and experiences to satisfy their cultural needs i.e. tourism that is concerned with a country’s or region’s culture, specifically the lifestyles of the people in that area, their history, art, architecture, religion/s, and other elements that have helped to shape and express their way of life.

Is an activity that uses creative and iterative processes to take account of a range of factors and needs in the optimal development of products, services, systems, environments and communication in response to the human condition and society’s needs.

Is a creative, user-centric and collaborative approach to developing innovative solutions, in any context which are technically feasible, economically feasible and socially desirable

The generation and application of financial, human and other resources to creative the optimal social, political, economic and cultural conditions in which citizens may enjoy the full gamut of human rights and freedoms.

Economic Development
Is a process aimed at improving the structure and functioning of an economy to improve its abilty to create jobs, generate wealth and improve quality of life for a country’s citizens.

Economic Growth
Is an increase in a country's real level of national output which can be caused by an increase in the quality of resources (education) and increase in the quantity and value of goods and services produced by every sector of the economy and can be measured by an increase in a country's GDP (gross domestic product).


Planned public or social occasions of varying scale and of varying themes or focus.
A story or event recorded by a camera as a set of moving images, with accompanying sound tracks, and shown in a cinema or on television; and increasingly available on digital platforms such as computers and mobile phones.

A general term for the style and customs of a given time, but in its most common usage, a reference to styles of clothing. Fashion could be clothing generally and the study of it, as well as the make or form of anything – its style, shape, appearance or structure, and which involves workmanship and execution.

Heritage refers to the sum total of both the tangible aspects of our culture, sites of scientific and historical importance, national monuments, historic buildings, works of art, literature and music, oral traditions and museum collections and their documentation which provides for a shared culture and creativity in the arts & culture.

Immovable Cultural Heritage
Monuments and sites in a fixed location.

Intangible Cultural Heritage
Traditions transmitted verbally and through body language from generation to generation, including language, social practices and rituals, traditional craftsmanship and indigenous knowledge.

The promotion of harmonious relations between cultures or cultural communities based on intensive exchanges in an integration model that does not seek to eliminate differences while fostering a common identity.

Intrinsic Value

A heritage resource or art form that has value in their own right, either for reasons of aesthetic, architectural and scientific excellence, or the stories and persons associated with them.

Is the successful exploitation of new ideas into new products, services and systems; it can be both incremental and inventive.


To preserve the memory of, or commemorate someone or an event or something worth remembering.

A statue, building, or other structure erected to commemorate a notable person or event.

Movable Cultural Heritage
Cultural artefacts that can be relocated including paintings, sculptures, coins and manuscripts.

Vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.

New Media

The forms of communicating in the digital world, which includes publishing on CDs, DVDs and, most significantly, over the Internet. It implies that the user obtains the material via desktop and laptop computers, smartphones and/or tablets.
Public Art
Is an artwork or element of design that is either temporarily or permanently located in a public space; public art/design also seeks to create and inspire relationships and communication and can be a form of collective community expression that enhances the built or natural environment. It can take the form of 2D images, 3D objects, live performance (including busking) and Carnival.

That which is located and transpires within and engages with the public domain, whether in public spaces or the media and which is for broad public consumption and/or participation, rather than for private or limited engagement.

The occupation or activity of preparing and issuing books, magazines, journals, and other material for sale.
Performing Arts

Forms of creative activity that are performed in front of an audience, such as drama, music, and dance; and various combinations thereof.


An area or region, a building or structure, a group of buildings, an open space, including a public square, street or park, and the immediate surroundings of a place which have value from a historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological viewpoint.
Social Media

Online forms of communicating that any individual can employ, which include blogs, microblogs such as Twitter and social networking sites such as Facebook; these allow smaller groups of people to congregate online and share, sell and swap goods and information. It also allows more people to have a voice in their community and in the world in general.

Visual Art/s
The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. The visual arts include drawing, painting sculpture, architecture, photograph, film and printmaking. The decorative arts include ceramics, furniture and interior design, jewellery making, metal crafting and woodworking.


The Socio-Economic Environment

After nearly two decades since South Africa’s formal transition to a non-racial democracy, Cape Town is known to many as one of the world’s most naturally and culturally distinctive destinations and places to live and work. Yet the legacy of Apartheid continues to impact on the City and its citizens with many, perhaps the majority, of people continuing to feel dispossessed and marginalised: economically, spatially, socially and culturally – their stories and experiences mostly still hidden from view. Racial politics still manifest in the way people experience the City and this is compounded by high levels of poverty adjacent to pockets of middle class and extreme wealth and displays of opulence. As a result the City and its citizens remain divided.

In poor communities high levels of poverty, unemployment, low skills and limited access to resources and facilities contribute to the rise in crime, drug abuse, violence against women and children, and gangsterism. Spatial inequality, distances from the centre and cost and inefficiency of public transport continue to marginalise the poor.

Racial divisions are mirrored by class differences and so there are few opportunities for diverse groups to meet and mix in ways that break down the barriers that come from spatial, social and economic separation.

These factors all contribute to perceptions that the City is not welcoming to people of colour, or at best, that the “rainbow nation” is something which middle-class people of whatever hue enjoy. These factors represent a challenge to the stated vision of the City as an “inclusive city”.

The Arts and Culture Environment

Some Cape-Town based artists have truly international reputations and serve as unofficial cultural ambassadors for the City. Yet Arts and Culture are officially afforded a low profile and there is a general lack of understanding of what it is and how the sector can contribute to social, human and economic development in a sophisticated and multifaceted way.

The Arts cross many genres and disciplines but are also interconnected. Arts practitioners and the community of arts and culture practitioners are often marginalised from mainstream economic and social activity.

The sector itself is fragmented, poorly co-ordinated and fiercely competitive over scarce resources and most artists and arts development organisations are in survival mode. There is limited reliable data on the economic and social impact of the arts, making it more difficult to argue its case. The emphasis on the creative industries implies that the arts should be sustainable within the marketplace and that funding should not be provided in perpetuity. However, the local arts market – individuals with disposable income to consume the arts - is relatively small and the tourist market quite seasonal, making it very difficult for sustainable consumption patterns to be attained simply within the marketplace. There are art practices such as orchestras, opera companies and even dance companies that are unsustainable without some form of public sector support,

In resource-poor communities there is a dearth of cultural spaces for the professional and social practice of the arts and this is compounded with poor arts training and resources in the schools. There are insufficient opportunities for supporting the creativity of youth, children and communities to enable problem solving, develop entrepreneurial activity and further social justice agendas. Poverty and unemployment rates also mean that many citizens are excluded from the fundamental right to “participate in the cultural life of the community and to enjoy the arts” as articulated in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Cape Town has culturally diverse communities and not all cultural practices are valued and recognised by other communities or by those who provide support to such practices, holding the danger of some of them dying out while others remain viable because of historical advantage. The rise in migration to the City from other parts of Africa brings new cultural practices and resources into the city, entailing much opportunity, but encounters high levels of xenophobia.

These factors pose challenges to the City as an “opportunity city” for all its citizens.

The City and Arts and Culture

Arts & Culture are often viewed as luxuries or given the absence of data and statistics on their economic, social and human value, their impact is difficult to quantify or measure unlike the provision of water, electricity, primary health care, public transport, etc.

Everyone can aspire to be an artist and everyone is an inherently creative being; however, there is a distinction between art for hobby/relaxation or communal expression and professional art practice. All levels are important and need to be supported but this results in massive demand from a broad spectrum of individuals and organisations in the arts and culture for City support.

Historically, some groupings and art forms received more support and are in a better position today and manage to maintain this position because of access to resources and influence. A key challenge is to find the balance between supporting the legitimate needs of both, and to give effect to the fundamental human right enshrined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “everyone shall have the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community and to enjoy the arts…”.

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