The most universal fear amongst artists is dying a pauper and leaving a legacy that the ones close to you will not enjoy. I personally refer to art as a calling. Artists carry messages from worlds we believe we’ve never been to. That too is my belief. A mere artistic expression.
Were you to take this seriously, you would have understood the painstaking effort it takes to develop our creations, testing them, seeking a market or suitable exhibition space, getting them into our blood, explaining them to ourselves and to others, introducing them as concepts that could bring about change (however big or small. Wait, who else develops, tests and finally exhibits? Scientists. Yes, art to the right brain is the equivalent of science in the brain hemisphere. So artists are scientists. So, taking that into consideration, why is art taken on a lesser degree than science in our world? The answer to that lies in another question… Who designed our world and the perspective in which to look at it?
Our ability to create has been for far too long taken for granted, causing us to have to put our art on hold in order to feed ourself through the system that is in power. This system which caters mostly for worker-bees more it does for the independent thinker.
So, what is the CCIFSA and what is it here to do? Firstly, the Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa is a new concept to many in the respective industries. I will put an emphasis on FEDERATION. This federation is here to fight for the artist in all possible ways and assist growth for both the artist and the industry. In South Africa, there has always been a reason for the artist to complain about a lack of resources and access to funding, mostly because of government corruption, so this federation is an idea to eradicate these ills.
As artists from all across the land of South Africa, we gathered in Bloemfontein at the University of the Free State from Sunday the 22nd of March to the early hours Wednesday the 25th trying to tweak this structure and put it in place. The Government was basically handing over the powers of its intervention in the arts to the artists themselves. Minister of Arts & Culture Mr. Nathi Mthethwa was there to convene for the first day of the conference. The focal point of his talks was about the handover of power from government to the artist.
“For it has always been our dream to see the artistic community, the cultural and creative sector personnel transform into active citizens and be the agents of change they want to see in their own country. If you remember, the president of the republic, his excellency J.G Zuma himself was at the forefront of engagement that gave birth to this process. We have come a long way since 2009 consultative meeting at the Sandton Convention Centre where both government including other stakeholders made a promise to work with the sector, to change the creative industry to be what artists want it to be.“
Gathered from this is the very words that each striving artist would like to hear. An interim committee, tasked with the duty to make this gathering possible was employed in December of last year. It was put out that the interim committee had been handed a R5m budget towards coordinating the conference and ensuring that all sectors across all provinces were properly presented. There were many questions regarding the usage of the R5m and all throughout, that question was avoided. The funds could not be accounted for. The minister, Mr Nathi Mthethwa continued to say that this gathering is for artists to elect their leaders who will elect their aspirations and hopes…
“We are saying that the message must go out that in this home of the ruling party, the African National Congress founded in 1912, the government of the people welcomes this development where artists organise themselves to elect their leaders who will represent their hopes. There was a reason why we put up an interim committee. The interim committee was just that: INTERIM COMMITTEE. And the interim committee had to deliver this, you coming here and they understood very well their task, and they did all in their power that we come here.
Today we are starting a process, a formative process of CCIFSA and what is not going to happen is that after more than a year we come gathered here and come out with an interim. There is no interim which is coming out here. YOU are going to elect your leaders here and now.”
Okay, I can attest to that this meeting was a haste for many of us as there had been a blockage in the passage of information until the last minute. I personally cannot appreciate having to go through 45 page document filled with many law/political terminology that is to decide my fate as an artist. I was the only delegate that I knew to be from Newcastle or Northern Natal. Everybody else was from Durban representing artist unions such as the Creative Workers Union of South Africa (CWUSA) amongst others. Of South Africa’s 9 provinces, 8 provinces were present and all provinces were to bring 60 delegates, to elect 10 leaders in the respective sectors. The Western Cape withdrew from attending as they weren’t suited by the organising and expressed that their mode of transportation would be inconvenient. Within the present provinces, it was agreed that the inaugural procedures would follow suite. The Free State however was the province with the the rowdiest approach and almost compromised the election with their own vendettas. Apparently there is a huge disharmony with the Free States government departments. This was very obvious as their premier, MEC or mayor of Bloemfontein were all absent.
The document that was being discussed was the Memorandum of Incorporation of The Cultural and Creative Industries of South Africa which is to be a Non-profit Company under the Companies Act, No. 71 of 2008 (as amended). I still feel that there needed to be a translator of the document as I doubt that all creative practitioners are gifted in translating political jargon. It was expected that by the end of the conference the document would be adopted by the creative industry practitioners present, to represent all others from across all provinces. The sectors were segmented as follows:
- Culture and Natural Heritage
- Performance and Celebration
- Visual Arts and Crafts
- Languages and Publishing
- Audio-Visual and Interactive Media
- Design, Creative and ACH Technical Support Services
The sector that was added on to those as a need for it arose on the spot was Arts Education. It was then decided that there would be 8 sectors in total with their relevant sub-sectors.
We will publish the lists of members for KwaZulu Natal once we have them but they include included ubabu Phuzekhemisi, Bhodloza, Qaphs, Tizozo, Mxolisi Mtshali, Sbu Mkhulisi,