Arts & culture

Community art centres and other cultural organisations
Arts and culture organisations
Mzansi Golden Economy
Cultural tourism
Visual arts
Rock art
Library and information services



The mandate of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) is to:

  • develop and promote arts and culture in South Africa, and mainstream its role in social development;
  • develop and promote the offcial languages of South Africa, and enhance the linguistic diversity of the country;
  • improve economic and other development opportunities for South African arts and culture nationally and glob- ally through mutually benefcial partnerships in order to ensure the sustainability of the sector; and
  • develop and monitor the implementation of policy, legisla- tion and strategic direction for the identifcation, conserva- tion and promotion of cultural heritage.

Over the medium term, the DAC was expected to focus on developing arts, culture and heritage infrastructure, positioning the cultural and creative industries as drivers of economic growth and job creation, and contributing to social cohesion and nation building.

To redress the historical imbalances in how South African heritage has been narrated, and to contribute to social trans- formation, the department was expected to construct new heritage infrastructure.

In 2016/17, the department was expected to conduct a feasibility study on a liberation movement museum. Herit- age infrastructure projects that  will  be  completed  over the medium term include: the Sarah Baartman Centre of Remembrance in Hankey in the Eastern Cape (to be com- pleted in March 2018/19 at a cost of R137,3 million), the OR Tambo Memorial in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape (to be completed in 2017/18 at R14 million), and the Ingquza Hill Museum in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape (to be completed in 2018/19 at R41 million).


South Africa is a multilingual country. The country’s Constitution guarantees equal status to 11 offcial languages to cater for its diverse people and their cultures. These are: English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.

Other languages used in South Africa include the Khoi, Nama and San languages, Sign Language, Arabic, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, French, Portuguese, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telegu and Urdu. South Africa has various structures and institutions that support the preservation and development of languages.

Community art centres and other cultural organisations

There are more than 160 community art centres are in operation, varying from community-initiated to government- managed centres.

The centres are located in different places such as craft centres, community halls and theatres.

The DAC endorses and supports programmes in needy centres that are community initiated or non-governmental. In 2015, 100 community arts programmes were implemented.

Arts and culture organisations

The following organisations play an active role in preserving and promoting South Africa’s arts and culture:

Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM)

The objective of the MRM is to contribute to the development of a caring society by reviving the spirit of botho/ubuntu (humanity). It also seeks to realise the values and ideals enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996.

Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy

The DAC’s Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy seeks to reposition the arts, culture and heritage sector as a key player in government’s programme of action towards creation of sustainable jobs, building audiences and skills development.

The strategy involves a number of arts and culture job creation programmes. These include the Public Art Programme, where youth will receive art classes after which the department will employ them in their respective communities to beautify the environment through art.

Living Living Legends Programme (LLLP)

In August 2015 the DAC announced the LLLP, an initiative  that seeks to honour the living legends of the arts, culture and heritage sector, document their contribution and provide opportunities for interaction and imparting skills to younger generations of artists.

The aim of this initiative is to identify living legends across all arts disciplines and engage them actively in programmes that promote arts and culture development. This is in line with the DAC’s policy intervention to develop the Living Her- itage Policy. Implementation of the programme includes the compiling of a Living Legends Inventory.

Various other aspects of the Living Legends Legacy Programme include giving Master-Classes, participating in incubator programmes, giving lectures and contributing to artists in schools and artists in residence programmes.

The strategic objective is to ensure that there is transference of skills, knowledge and experience to the younger generation, while at the same time creating opportunities for the legends to continue pursuing viable careers in the arts.


Arts and cultural festivals abound in South Africa and many of them have become annual events, growing in popularity and attendance numbers.

  • Aardklop, held annually in Potchefstroom, North West, is inherently Afrikaans, but universal in character. The festival provides a platform for the creativity and talent of local artists.
  • Arts Alive International Festival in Newtown in Johan- nesburg provides the best in homegrown and overseas entertainment in September.
  • The Cape Town International Jazz Festival features inter- national and African artists. It also features photographic and art exhibitions.
  • The Dance Umbrella is a festival of contemporary chore- ography and dance, presenting work ranging from com- munity-based dance troupes to international companies. The Dance Umbrella has established itself as the main "stepping stone" for many South African choreographers who now work internationally. They include Vincent Mant- soe, Robyn Orlin, Boyzie Cekwana and Gregory Maqoma.
  • The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees, known as the KKNK, a vibrant festival for the performing arts, is held annually in Oudtshoorn and presentations include drama, cabaret, and contemporary and classical music.
  • The Mangaung African Cultural Festival in Bloemfontein is gaining status as one of the biggest cultural tourism events in southern Africa. This 10-day festival showcases the cream of African and international talent.
  • The National Arts Festival, held annually in July in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, is one of the largest and most diverse arts gatherings in Africa.
  • Oppikoppi Bushveld Bash near Northam in North West offer live performances by rock, alternative and blues bands, both local and from abroad.
  • The Splashy Fen Music Festival near Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal offers a variety of mainstream and alternative rock and pop music.
  • Standard Bank Joy of Jazz is Johannesburg’s biggest annual jazz festival, with local and international artists performing at different venues across the city.
  • Up the Creek is a popular music festival on the banks of the Breede River near Swellendam in the Western Cape.
  • The White Mountain Folk Festival in the Central Drakens- berg mountain range offers great music in an awesome setting for three days in September. It features acoustic performances by some of South Africa’s top folk musi- cians.

Other festivals that attract visitors at both national and international level are:

  • Innibos in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga;
  • Taung Cultural Calabash in North West;

The inaugural Mandela International Film Festival took place in Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape, in December 2015. It strives to encourage a bold new world of flm-making and is committed to improving both the craft and business of flm.

The Nelson Mandela Bay area offers not only an exceptional venue for the flm industry but is also is part of a mas- sive investment promotion strategy that includes a range of initiatives from infrastructure to manufacturing, tourism and agriculture.

Cultural tourism

Cultural festivals, African-cuisine projects, cultural villages, heritage routes and storytelling are areas that beneft from South Africa’s booming tourism industry. Many cultural villages have been established throughout South Africa to refect the different cultures and traditions of the country’s people


The theatre scene is buzzing in South Africa, with over 100 active spaces across the country offering everything from indigenous drama, music, dance, cabaret and satire to West End and Broadway hits, classical opera and ballet.

Venues range from the monolithic homes of the former state-supported performing arts councils to purpose-built theatres, a converted fruit market, country barns, casinos and urban holes-in-the-wall.


Music is one of the key cultural industries identifed in the Cultural Industrial Growth Strategy Report and government has committed itself to harnessing its potential. In addition to its cultural value, music plays an important economic role in the country, generating signifcant copyright revenue. In this industry, the department has solid foundations on which to build.

These include the annual South African Music Week, the in-school education programme run in conjunction with the Department of Basic Education, and the Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition.

In July 2015, the Khoisan  indigenous  dance  group,  Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers – a traditional Khoisan Riel Dance troupe won Gold in the Group Production Competition at the 19th Championship of the World Performing Arts in Los Angeles, USA. They beat France and Philippines to take the frst prize.

he Taking South African Music to the World Programme is aimed at improving export opportunities for South African music.

The DAC funds a number of musical ensembles directly and indirectly, through the NAC.

According to the Fourth South African Edition of PwC’s South African Entertainment and Media Outlook:  2013 - 2017, published in September, digital music sales will account for just 14% of South African recorded music retail sales by 2017.

South Africa is the 25th largest market for recorded music, with the industry employing more than 20 000 people.

Local music accounts for a third of all the music bought by South Africans.

Township jazz and blues, especially the kwela music of the forties and ffties, are being redefned; the country also has a rich choral tradition, and pop and rock musicians have made their mark internationally.

Even techno-rave and house music have found their own variations in local culture. Kwaito and hip-hop are very popu- lar, combining elements of rap, reggae and other musical styles into a distinctly South African style. Kwaai Jazz is also gaining momentum.

South African Music Awards (Samas)

The 21st annual MTN Samas ceremony was held at Sun City, North West, in April 2015. The winners were:

  • Best Collaboration: K.O. ft. Kid X, Caracara.
  • Best Music Video of the Year: Ryan Kruger (director), Let the Night In by Prime Circle.
  • Best Producer of the Year: Wouter Kellerman and Ricky Kej for Winds of Samsara by Wouter Kellerman.
  • Best Engineer of the Year: Brian O’Shea, Crighton Goodwill and Maruis Poplanet for Johnny Apple by Johnny Apple.
  • Remix of the Year: DJ Sbu and Robbie Malinga, Indlela Yam by DJ Sbu and Mojalefa Thebe.
  • Special awards: KIA Record of the Year: K.O, featuring kid X, Caracara.
  • Best Selling Album: Riana Nel.
  • Lifetime Achievement awards: M’du Masilela, Mandla Mofokeng (Spikiri) and Zim Ngqawana.
  • International Achievement Award: Wouter Kellerman.
  • Best Selling DVD: Joyous SA, Vol. 18 One Purpose.
  • Best Selling Mobile Music Download: Beatenberg and DJ Clock.
  • Album of the Year:  Beatenberg,  The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg.
  • Duo or Group of the Year:  Beatenberg,  The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg.
  • Female Artist of the Year:  Bucie,  Princess of House (Easy to Love).
  • Male Artist of the Year: AKA, Levels.
  • Newcomer of the Year: Cassper Nyovest, Tsholofelo.
  • Best Rock Album: aKing, Morning After.
  • Best Pop Album: Beatenberg, The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg.
  • Best Pop Album (Afrikaans): Riana Nel, Die Regte Tyd.
  • Best Adult Contemporary Album: Joe Niemand, Back Again.
  • Best Adult Contemporary Album (Afrikaans): Dewald Wasserfall, Ek en Jy.
  • Best African Adult Album: Maleh, You Make My Heart Go.
  • Best Alternative Album: Bittereinder, Skerm.
  • Best R&B/Soul/Reggae Album: Afrotraction, For The Lovers.
  • Best Rap Album: K.O, Skhanda Republic.
  • Best Kwaito Album: Professor, University of Kalawa Jazmee since 1994.
  • Best Dance Album: Black Motion, Fortune Teller.
  • Best Traditional Faith Music Album: S’fso Ncwane, Bayede Baba.
  • Best Contemporary Faith Music Album: Loyiso Bala, Power Love Sound.
  • Best Traditional Music Album: Botlhale Boikanyo, Spoken Word & Music.
  • Best Maskandi Album: Thokozani Langa, Igama Lami.
  • Best Jazz Album: McCoy Mrubata, Brasskap Sessions Vol. 2.
  • Best Classical and/or Instrumental Album: Wouter Kellerman, Winds of Samsara.
  • Best Live DVD: Robin Kohl for First Decade by Lira.
  • Best Selling Ring-Back Tone: Pluto,  DJ Clock ft Beat- enberg.
  • Best Selling Full-Track Download: Pluto, DJ Clock ft Beatenberg.
  • South African Music Performance Rights Association Award Highest Airplay of the Year: Pluto, DJ Clock ft Beatenberg.

South African Traditional Music Achievements (SATMA) Awards

Launched in 2005, the SATMA Awards are aimed at pro- moting, preserving, uplifting, developing, honouring and awarding traditional musicians across racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The 10th SATMA Awards ceremony was held on 3 October 2015 in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal and the winners were:

  • Best Sepedi Album: Mponi (Dula le nna).
  • Best Tshivenda Album: April Ramufhi (Vhavenda vhalale).
  • Best Xitsonga Album: Joe Shirimani (Ni Heleketeni).
  • Best isiNdebele Album: Smangele (Ihlonipho).
  • Best isiXhosa Album:   Butho   Vuthela   (Emasimini kuyaphilwa Vol. 1).
  • Best Setswana Album:  Diragammu  Cultural  Group (Mahikeng).
  • Best Sesotho Album: Phoka le Moketa (Lipooho tsa Borhabela).
  • Best Siswati Album: Make Shelangubo (Ngilele Ebaleni).
  • Best Indian Album: Flash Entertainers (Nagara touch and chutney hits).
  • Best  Boeremusiek  Album:  Hans  Bothma  (Langarm Boerejol).
  • Best  Maskandi  Album:  Amageza  Amahle  (Ithende lemicimbi).
  • Best Vernacular Hip-Hop Album: Zakwe (Reverse, ft Duncan).
  • Best Song of the Year: Osaziwayo (Iphupho).
  • Best Female Artist: Buselaphi (Gabi Gabi).
  • Best Afro Soul: Choko (Lerato).
  • Best Poet: Phindile "the poet" (Divine purpose).
  • Best African Jazz Song: Quincy K (Motswana gorileng).
  • Best Indigenous Comedian: (Tsoro).
  • Best Newcomer Artist: Bahubhe (Impundulu).
  • Best Mbaqanga Album: Sandile Khwela (Uvalo).
  • Best Isicathamiya Album: Royal Messengers (Sakhisizwe).
  • Best Traditional Dance Group: Kopano ke Matla Traditional Group.
  • Best Praise Singer: David Leshomo (Molodi wa setso).
  • Best Reggae Album: Judah of the next generation (Let thy kingdom come).


The National Arts Council is responsible for funding the KwaZulu-Natal, Cape and Gauteng orchestras as well as the Cape Town Jazz Orchestra.


Dancing is part of the African way of life and has become a prime means of artistic expression, with dance companies expanding and exploring new territory.

Contemporary work ranges from normal preconceptions of movement and performance art or performance theatre to the completely unconventional.

Added to this is the African experience, which includes traditional dance inspired by wedding ceremonies, battles, rituals and the trifles of everyday life.

An informal but highly versatile performance venue in Johannesburg, The Dance Factory, provides a permanent platform for a variety of dance and movement groups. The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Theatre is another popular dance venue.

Visual arts

South Africa has a rich variety of visual art, with influences ranging from pre-historic, ancient and indigenous art to western, Asian and contemporary art.

Art galleries, ranging from small privately owned commercial galleries, to major regional galleries such as the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, the Durban Art Gallery in KwaZulu-Natal, the Johannesburg Art Gallery in Gauteng and King George VI Gallery in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, showcase collections of indigenous, historical and contemporary works.

Rock art

There are many traces of ancient cultures that existed in southern Africa in the distant past. Experts estimate that there are 250 000 rock-art sites south of the Zambezi.

The San people left a priceless and unique collection of Stone Age paintings and engravings in the region, which also represents the largest collection of its kind in the world.


With its scenic beauty, abundant wildlife, diversity of cultures and rich historical heritage, South Africa is a photographer’s paradise.

Many South African photographers have been acclaimed for their work, which features in coffee-table books, documentaries, local and overseas exhibitions, magazines and newspapers.


South Africa has a rich architectural heritage, reflecting contributions from all the cultural groups in the country. Through the centuries, a unique trend has developed in South Africa’s architectural style, which has been referred to as an innovative marriage of traditions.

This is evident in the variety of architectural structures found all over the country, ranging from humble dwellings, historical homesteads and public buildings, to modern, commercial buildings reflecting state-of-the-art technology and designs that match the best in the world.


South African beadwork, once the insignia of tribal royalty alone, has found a huge range of applications, including the creation of coverings for everything from bottles to matchboxes.

With workplaces ranging from the pavements and markets of the big cities to dwellings in deep rural areas, South Africans produce a remarkable range of arts and crafts, including various forms of traditional artwork and innovative new products.

These range from jewellery, tableware, home decorations, embroidery and key rings to skilfully crafted wooden engravings and wirework sculptures. In addition to the standard materials such as beads, grass, leather, fabric and clay, many other mediums are also used, including telephone wire, plastic bags, empty cans, bottle tops and even food tin labels, to create brightly coloured paper mâché bowls.

Shops, markets and collectors dealing in African crafts provide much-needed employment and income to communities.

Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA)

The CCIFSA is the controlling body set up in 2015, with the assistance of the DAC, for cultural and creative sectors in South Africa. It was formed as a non-proft company to pro- mote and develop the social and economic interests of the cultural and creative industries, and to act as the controlling body for these sectors.


South Africa has a rich and diverse literary history, and the local literature sector has become globally competitive and the country’s writers continue to command respect throughout the world.

National Book Week, a partnership between the South African Book Development Council and the DAC, was celebrated from 7 to 13 September 2015. The initiative promotes literacy, celebrates reading. Reading statistics report that only 14% of the South African population are active book readers, and a mere 5% of parents read to their children. In an effort to fulfl its key objectives, the national campaign focused on two key facets - getting people to read and getting more books to South Africans.

#GOINGPLACES refects the physical journey of National Book Week travelling throughout South Africa, as well as the magic of books and how reading books can both fguratively and literally take you places. This campaign, which primarily aims to encourage book reading, targets adults, children, youth and students, as well as librarians, teachers, parents and caregivers.

#BUYABOOK is a call to action which seeks to increase the perception of the value in books, particularly for those who do not own any. First in line to heed this call has been publishers Pan Macmillan SA, Penguin Random House SA, and NB Publishers who have offered discounted books that will be sold in Bargain Books and Exclusive Books stores nationwide.

In 2015, Marlene van Niekerk became the frst South African author to be shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. She was recognized for outstanding lifetime achieve- ments in fction, including works like Triomf and Agaat. She also received the Order of Ikhamanga in 2011 for "her out- standing intellectual contribution to literary arts and culture".

South African Literary Awards

The 10th South African Literary Awards in 2015 were held at the Tshwane Events Centre in Pretoria. The winners were:

  • First Time Published Author Award: Carol Campbell, My Children Have Faces.
  • K Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award: Zukiswa Wan- ner, London – Cape Town – Joburg.
  • Literary Translators Award: Karen Press, Mede-wete and Synapse.
  • Poetry Award (the award shared by all three nominees):
    • Charl-Pierre Naude (Afrikaans), Al die lifelike dade.
    • Mangaliso Buzani (isiXhosa), Ndisabhala Imibongo.
    • Bishop MT Makobe (Sepedi), Tsa Ngweding wa Letopanta.
  • Creative Non-Fiction Award: Edwin Cameron, Justice: A Personal Account.
  • Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award: Abraham H de Vries (Afrikaans), Maar wie snoei die rose in die nag?
  • K Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award: Jamala Safari, The Great Agony and Pure laughter of the Gods.
  • Literary Posthumous Awards: RRR Dhlomo and HIE Dhlomo.
  • Lifetime  Achievement  Literary  Awards:  Antjie  Krog (Afrikaans) and Achmat Dangor (English).
  • Literary Journalism Award: Michele Magwood (English).


The South African Government recognises the signifcant role played by the film sector in nation building, promoting social cohesion, reconciliation and supporting economic growth and job creation.

Government offers a package of incentives to promote its flm production industry. The Foreign Film and Television Production incentive aims to attract foreign based flm productions to shoot on location in South Africa, and the South African Film and Television Production and Co-production incentive aims to assist local flm producers in producing local content.

The South African Emerging Black Filmmakers incentive, a sub-programme of the South African Film and Television Production and Co-production Incentive, which aims to assist local emerging black flmmakers to nurture and grow them to take up big productions and thus contribute towards employment creation.

The three largest film distributors in South Africa are Ster-Kinekor, United International Pictures and Nu-Metro.

Ster-Kinekor has a specialised art circuit, called Cinema Nouveau, with theatres in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria.

Film festivals include the Durban International Film Festival; the North West Film Festival; the Apollo Film Festival in Victoria West; the Three Continents Film Festival (specialising in African, South American and Asian films, the Soweto Film Festival; and the Encounters Documentary Festival, which alternates between Cape Town and Johannesburg.


South Africa can justifably be called the "museum country of Africa", with the earliest of its museums dating back to the frst half of the 19th century.

There are more than 300 museums in South Africa. They range from museums of geology, history, the biological sci- ences and the arts, to mining, agriculture, forestry and many other disciplines.

Visitors can find exhibits, both conventional and eccentric, on every conceivable topic – from beer to beadwork, from fashion to food.

National Library of South Africa (NLSA)

The NLSA is a custodian and provider of the nation’s key knowledge resources. Its collections contain a wealth of information sources, including rare manuscripts, books, periodicals, government  publications, foreign official publications, maps, technical reports, and special interest material, including Africana and newspapers.

South African Library for the Blind (SALB)

The SALB is a statutory organisation located in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. Its purpose is to provide, free of charge, a national library information service to blind and print-handicapped readers in South Africa.

It is partly state-funded and depends for the remainder of its fnancial needs on funds from the private sector and the general public.

The SALB also produces documents in special media such as Braille, audio and tactile formats. It develops stand- ards for the production of such documents and researches production methods and technology in the appropriate felds. It also acquires, manufactures and disseminates the tech- nology people with visual disabilities use to read. The SALB has a membership of about 5 427 people, an audio and Braille collection of more than 110 950 books, and an annual circulation of 141 950 books in Braille or audio format.

To make library services more accessible, the SALB partners 115 public libraries providing accessible reading material and assistive devices.

Blind SA

Blind SA, located in Johannesburg, provides services for blind and partially sighted individuals to uplift and empower them by publishing books, magazines and other documents in Braille.



Source: Pocket Guide to South Africa 2015/16

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