ANSA submission on Revised White Paper

VANSA worked with Arterial Network South Africa on the development of a summary submission to the Department of Arts and Culture's draft White Paper for Arts, Culture and Heritage. The submission was made together with a call to the DAC to make provision for substantially more consultation and work on the document prior to it's submission to Cabinet for approval.

Revised White Paper: Motivation from Arterial Network South Africa for an extension for submissions and recommendations for greater consultation and revised content.

We submit this brief addendum in the expectation of wide ranging discussions and conversations in the future between ourselves Arterial Network South Africa (ANSA) and the Department of Arts and Culture. It is focused on two areas with the intention of offering recommendations and alternatives as requested by Minister Paul Mashatile: First is the process of developing the Revised White Paper and recommendations to effectively engage stakeholders; second, is the content of the Revised White Paper with recommendations for developing a more appropriate White Paper. In making these recommendations we offer our support to the department to be engaged in a constructive and fruitful process to ensure a White Paper of which we can all be proud and commit to.

 

1. Process
The meeting on Friday 12th July noted that we should be maximising our vast and substantial arts, culture and heritage resources in the country. ANSA agrees fully and believes that the process to date has not made efficient or effective use of those available resources in developing the Revised White Paper. These resources include all those individuals involved in the ACTAG process and the writing of the first White Paper; current arts, culture and heritage representatives and leaders in their sectors; cultural and creative industry leaders in their industries and individual cultural policy experts. These organisations and individuals need to be regarded as partners to the state in fulfilling its mandate to ensure the delivery of a robust arts, culture and heritage sector to all its citizens.


ANSA appeals to the Minister and the leadership of DAC to put their trust and confidence in these partners through a comprehensive, time-bound stakeholder engagement process for this White Paper revision.


To achieve this, we recommend that the DAC
1. Extend the deadline for submissions until September 2013.
2. Engage Arterial Network as a network of networks, organisations and individuals to facilitate this engagement with the sector around identifying current challenges and policy responses/ solutions that will form the basis of the Revised White Paper.
3. Engage industry organisations in the cultural and creative industries to do a similar engagement in their respective industries.

 

2. Content

The Revised White Paper is problematic in many aspects and is riddled with internal contradictions, definitional confusion and inappropriate mandates. The vision it presents for our sector is weak. This does not serve the department well at all or the stakeholders within the sector. A strong robust vibrant ACH sector is no doubt able to contribute to the important goals of social cohesion, nation building, economic growth and the like but the Revised White Paper must ensure that it offers the opportunity to develop and sustain a strong, robust, vibrant ACH sector in the first instance.
Many of the problems of the document in its current form flow from weaknesses in the diagnostic dimensions of the document. Significant attention is paid to the ongoing legacy of apartheid (a central theme of the first white paper). However, the document in its present form provides very little insight into the nature of and rationale for sectoral weaknesses across a number of key areas, a number of which are either largely or entirely overlooked by the RWP in its present form:

o An education system in which culture and creativity are inadequately addressed in the form, content and practical resourcing of curricula, delivery methods, learning materials and the human resources that bring these to life;
o An inefficient funding system in which the cost of issuing funding is disproportionate to the actual value of that funding and in which the roles of different agencies are poorly articulated across the state framework; Weak, underfunded and unsustainable public cultural infrastructure across the three spheres of government (principally museums and theatres) based on attendance figures/patronage, revenue, infrastructure development, etc.
o Lack of capacity at local government level to plan for, invest in and support culture and creativity at the most local level;
o A failure to translate significant symbolic profile internationally into significant economic returns through the export of our cultural and creative goods and services.

Furthermore, where solutions have been proposed which might address some of these issues (for example, the proposed rationalisation of cultural institutions and funding structures), these proposals have not been based on any detailed assessment or analysis of the particular issue. The rationale for the proposed Creative Industries Fund, for example, does not appear to have been based on any assessment or considered analysis of the performance and constraints of the funding institutions that already exist or the direct and indirect contribution by business to the arts. We believe that such an assessment would produce a very different set of policy propositions.
In terms of the overall conceptual framework for the policy, we propose that the DAC recognise and adopt the three way differentiation of the ACH sector which requires different institutional arrangements, funding requirements and policy prescriptions. These are the role of ACH sector in: 


Artistic and Cultural Development leading to artistic vibrancy and practice, artists and the disciplines of the arts, freedom of expression, self-esteem enhancement, purity of truth and beauty, catharsis. The governing institutions would include the National Arts Council, National Film and Video Foundation, the National Heritage Council, and the Cultural Institutions interfacing with private artists, arts organisations, theatres, museums, galleries and the like.


Social Development contributing to social cohesion, community participation, culture and development, cultural diversity, nation building. The social realm articulates with departments and agencies responsible across the three sphere of government responsible for education, health, social development, correctional services, policing, town and parks and recreation at municipal level, etc. In a country with such high levels of poverty, crime and youth at risk one can’t but emphasize above the economic benefits the social and transformative value of arts and culture in society to create this better life which we aspire to. “Art is what helps make a society from an economy. It builds communities, focussing the attention on the intangible but essential and celebrates beauty. It nurtures passion and feelings, it embraces our daily lives and it enriches our relationships and that is how you can tell that building an economy is worthwhile” ,


• Economic development stimulating job creation, income generation, poverty alleviation, export growth and small business formation. The economic realm needs to articulate with industry organisations as well as departments of Trade and Industry, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Communications (Broadcasting), International Relations, Labour and related agencies across the three spheres of government. It also needs to develop strategies and frameworks in parallel with cultural and creative business to unblock and promote growth in the cultural and creative economy.

In the Revised White Paper there is conceptual and definitional confusion about the ACH sector and the cultural and creative industries. Cultural and creative industries are but one part of the ACH sector which includes non profits, individual artists and public entities.
Clarifying this would provide for a clear focus on the subsidized, non-profit ACH sector as well as the entrepreneurial ACH sector (of which the CCIs are a part) and their respective policy needs. It would necessarily lead to clarity about which institutional arrangements best suit each broad and distinct practice, what funding (subsidies and grants) or financing (start-up grants, low interest loans, equity, micro-financing) is most appropriate, and what policies are needed to ensure its vibrancy, growth and sustainability.


We are further concerned that the policy in its present form will simply not be implementable from a technical point of view. The extent and breadth of legislative reform implied in the proposed set of new institutional arrangements is simply not justified by the evidence and level of analysis that is presented in the document. Moreover, these reforms would take many, many years to be effected, with many legal obstacles and objections from various parties arising along the way – quite aside from the very substantial question of whether any of these reforms will yield the intended results.
We would propose that many of the problems outlined here and in the RWP itself do not require legislative change, and could be effected, for example, simply through better levels of articulation between different parts of government. Elsewhere, we have argued that the delegation of funds from the Lottery to the DAC funding structures (NAC, NFVF, NHC) would effect an almost instantaneous sea change in the economies of scale under which the latter structures presently operate.


The following key aspects of the ACH environment are either absent or dealt with inadequately and we recommend that further research and/or expertise is necessary to address this appropriately in the RWP:


• Education at all levels
• Community arts centres
• Audience development
• Digital arts
• Public arts
• Rights and status of artists
• The role of local authorities/government in stimulating ACH sector in both rural and urban settings
• Cultural and creative city development


We recommend that the DAC refers to the Generic Cultural Policy developed by Arterial Network and published in ‘Adapting the Wheel’ as a guide to the structuring of the Revised White Paper. We understand that this has already been sent to you. In this guide there are key chapter headings which would offer a simple and clear focus for the RWP with appropriate attention given to artists and the arts, culture, heritage, cultural and creative industries, education, tourism, audience development and funding and financing in particular.


It would avoid the current confusion as to the focus of the RWP, the relationship between the ACH sector and the CCIs as well as the inadequate attention given to key international conventions - that our government has agreed to and in some instances ratified - that need to frame our White Paper.

Critical areas of public art, community arts centres, cultural and creative city development, digital arts, the role of the cultural observatory etc. could be the subject of separate chapters.
Further research/consultation is required to substantiate, develop and validate a number of the recommendations contained in the current RWP with regard to
a. The institutional arrangements proposed
b. Feasibility and implication of the CIF
c. The current performance of the CCIs and progress made (or not) since CIGS and the MGE
d. The key challenges facing the ACH sector and the individual sub sectors

As stated above, these concerns and recommendations form part of our initial submission offered here to encourage your leadership to engage ANSA in this process of drafting the Revised White Paper. ANSA is ready and willing to engage with the DAC on the development of the RWP as well as in the engagement of stakeholders to help ensure the legitimacy and credibility of this important policy document.

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