What We Do

The Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA) was initiated by leading figures in the visual arts sector from across South Africa in 2003. People felt that the visual arts - unlike the film, performing arts, music, and publishing sectors - lacked a body that could tackle industry issues: from the need to address historical imbalances in access to opportunities in the visual arts, through to the need to attract more public investment and funding for the sector. Growth, Transformation and Opportunity were the three key ideas that motivated the organisation.


Information is the lifeblood of any industry. We produce an authoritative bi-monthly industry news and opportunities update which is sent to a rapidly expanding database (currently over 7 000 subscribers). These updates include information about:
·       Work Opportunities
·       Residencies
·       Funding
·       Professional Development Opportunities
·       Commissions and Calls
·       Competitions
·       VANSA Project Updates
If there is an opportunity that you are aware of - or are offering - that you think should be more widely publicised (and that falls into one of these categories), send this information to communications@vansa.co.za


Making it in the visual arts sector requires a complicated set of skills – being a very creative person is not normally enough. Most people entering the visual arts industry often have only a very hazy understanding of how the art world works, and the tools that they need to navigate through this complex environment. VANSA helps to bridge this gap through the provision of resources, workshops and mentorship programmes that focus on a range of professional, creative and technical skills.
To date VANSA has produced an Artists Handbook and driven the development of the ArtRight website together with Brendan Copestake and the WITS School of Arts. ArtRight features advice, tools and templates that visual arts professionals can use for dealing with the business aspects of their work, from contracts and agreements through to the administration of their finances and tax, as well as strategies and tools for making their practice more visible. VANSA regional offices each run an annual programme of workshops and projects which are posted on our website, and our Cape Town and Johannesburg offices are in the process of establishing helpdesks which assist artists and others with their professional development needs. During the course of 2010, VANSA provided workshops and work-based training for more than 350 artists and twenty arts administrators across the country.


The myth of the lonely artist is just that – a myth. We believe that creativity is fostered in an environment where people meet and connect, generating new ideas, possibilities and projects. Facilitating such opportunities has been a core concern of VANSA since its inception. We convened the first national visual arts conference in post-apartheid South Africa in 2006, and have since staged a series of prominent events and projects that have brought contemporary visual arts professionals from across the country, the continent and the globe together. These have included the Robben Island Curators Workshop in 2007, the International Association of Art Critics Workshop in Cape Town in 2008 and the Public Art Survivor Project in Johannesburg in 2009. VANSA has also recently developed a map of the contemporary visual arts in South Africa for the Mondriaan Foundation in Holland, which will function as a resource to facilitate connection between international artists, curators and projects, and the South African contemporary arts scene.


VANSA is not just about talk and workshops – we also get involved in promoting innovation and creating meaningful work and project opportunities for people in our industry, bringing contemporary artists and their practice into new contexts, reaching new audiences and consumers. We believe that contemporary art has a significant role to play in a complex and rapidly changing society and economy.
In 2010, VANSA created work and project opportunities valued at more than R2,2 million for more than 100 artists, curators, arts administrators and other professionals, through working with local and international partners. Significant projects have included the Two Thousand and Ten Reasons to Live in a Small Town project, which has involved 17 contemporary artists researching and developing public art interventions in eleven small towns across South Africa. In Cape Town and Johannesburg, VANSA has been involved in the commissioning of a range of cutting-edge public artworks on behalf of the City, NGOs and other clients. In Durban, the packed Creative Arts Bus entertains and transports art buyers on a tour of galleries across the city every weekend.


We believe that research has a critical role to play in effecting change, transformation and growth in the visual arts industry in South Africa. VANSA was involved in the first major study of the visual arts industry in South Africa, recently undertaken by the Human Sciences Research Council. The study shows that the visual arts contributes over R1 billion to the national economy per annum and creates work for over 17 000 people. We think that this kind of information can help in getting government and the corporate sector to take what we do more seriously.
VANSA is currently conducting research in a number of areas where we think that better information could benefit our industry. These include research into the feasibility of introducing artist resale rights legislation in South Africa and a more effective copyright collection for South African artists, as well as potential incentives and schemes for the provision of low cost studio space and the promotion of South African art internationally.


We think it’s important that our industry has a voice, and this was one of the main motivations behind the original establishment of VANSA. VANSA aims to facilitate spaces for discussion, debate and action on important issues that impact on our sector – from topical issues such as transformation and freedom of expression, through to problems in funding, government policy, legislation and regulation that affect our sector. VANSA seeks to create opportunities for the visual arts industry to speak with one voice, around issues that matter.


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