The creative economy in SA is worth 90Bn and contributes 3% to our GDP. The arts are and have always been the no1 contributor of wealth in developed countries such as the US.
The question is how does South Africa build an unshakable creative economy? An economy that stimulates growth through job creation, alleviates poverty and promotes skills.
The creative economy, particularly visual art has proved to be a self-sustaining economy. Through the works of their hands, artists are able to make a living through their art without many of the much needed support of funds or adequate resources to produce their work. Yet they are able to sustain themselves and their families from what they make.
Art has always been elitist, with just a select few who have an understanding and appreciation for it. The scales have shifted and we see a growing but still small number of the wealthy black people who are slowly appreciating the increasing value of art. So we can conclude that it is not about the money but art education and exposure that develops an appreciation and an understanding of the form.
How does the United States and the United Kingdom manage art? And how can we learn from them?
The creative industry is and can be a major contributor to economic development through tourism, public art in parks, train stations, where history and heritage is preserved through art.
How we can adopt these methods to change our cities, create value in art through support structures such as studio spaces in town, public art to transform spaces and export opportunities for more artists.
- The role of government is to put a spotlight on visual arts – promoting, supporting and involving the public in the discourse of art as a key contributor to national development.
- Building a strong creative economy will help boost tourism, increase exports.
- Start documenting South African art and include art in in all schools curricula as a key subject.
- Art should be taught at all schools and not only limited to upper quintile schools to give all children an equal advantage to learn and develop their artistic skills early in life.
- Art hubs in towns and local communities for artists to collaborate and create a creative workforce in their communities creating a vibrant business environment.
Art is past and present. Art is economic. Art is entertaining. Art is healing. Art is changing. Art is political. Art is thought provoking. Art is life and should be at the forefront of any conscious nation.
According to Ann Markusen, Markusen Economic Research Services and Anne Gadwa, Metris Arts Consulting “In creative placemaking, partners from public, private, non-profit, and community sectors strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighbourhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities. Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired.”
Are you in the art industry? Share your thoughts.