Arts & culture

Services rendered by DAC
Promoting & preserving heritage infrastructure
Community library services
Cultural  creative industries
Facilitating nation-building and social cohesion
New names of towns
Cultural developmentNational Heritage Monument
Community art centres and other cutural organisations
Arts and culture organisations
Moral Regeneration Movement
Cultural tourism
SA Music Awards
SA Traditional Music Achievement Awards
Visual arts
Rock art
National Library of South Africa
Blind SA





The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) aims to contribute to sustainable economic development and enhance job creation by preserving, protecting and developing South African arts, culture and heritage to sustain a socially cohesive and democratic nation. The mandate of the DAC is to:

  • preserve, develop, protect and promote the cultural, heritage and linguistic diversity andlegacy of South Africa;
  • lead nation-building and social cohesion through societal transformation;
  • enhance archives and records management structures and systems, and promote access to information; and
  • provide leadership to the art and culture sector so as to accelerate its transformation.

Chapters 9 and 15 of the National Development Plan present a vision for South Africa that entails improved education, and a transformed and united country. This vision is expressed in terms of Outcome 1 (quality basic education) and outcome 14 (nation building and social cohesion) of government’s 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework. The work of the DAC is closely aligned with these outcomes.

Over the medium term, the department plans to focus on promoting and preserving heritage infrastructure, providing community library services, positioning the cultural and creative industries to contribute to economic growth, and facilitating social cohesion and nation-building.

Services rendered by the DAC

Some of the services rendered by the DAC’s include the:

1. National Archives, which makes archival material available to the public. Although actual access to archival documentation is free of charge, the public is charged for the reproduction of material for further use, either on film or paper. Publications are also sold, and the public is charged for the transfer of data by magnetic means.

2. National Film, Video and Sound Archives which collects,preserves and provides access to audio-visual records created both by government and private bodies or individuals. Its aims are to:

  •  preserve public and non-public audio-visual records or documents with enduringvalue, for use by the public and the State;
  •  make such records accessible and promote their use by the public;
  •  ensure the proper management and care of all public audio-visual records;
  •  collect non-public audio-visual and related records with enduring value of nationalsignificance,which another institution cannot more appropriately preserve;
  •  maintain national registers of non-public records with enduring value,and to promote cooperation and coordination between institutions having custody of such records; and
  •  promote the preservation and use of our national archival heritage.

3. Bureau for Heraldry, which registers the heraldic representations, names, special names and uniforms of individuals, associations and institutions. It also renders advice on heraldicand related matters and provides financial assistance to institutions, boards, committees orother public bodies or persons in order to promote the functional objectives of the Bureauof Heraldry.

4. National Language Service, which provides a translating and editing service to all government departments. It also provides policy development support relating to official language development, particularly related to the Use of Official Languages Act of 2012.

Promoting and preserving heritage infrastructure

The DAC is developing the infrastructure of heritage sites in all nine provinces to ensure that the Resistance and Liberation Heritage Route (RLHR) tells the South African story, thereby increasing the potential of attracting economic development and tourism. The liberation heritage route honours those who dedicated their lives to the struggle for liberation in South Africa. The route is expected to comprise a number of sites that express the key aspects of the South African resistance and liberation experience.

Some of the sites include the house of Charlotte Maxeke in Gauteng; the site of the Lowveld Massacre in Mpumalanga; Turfloop Campus in Limpopo; the Women Prison in Kroonstad, Free State; Mama Getrude Mpekwa Site in North West; the Sarah Baartman Heritage Site in the Eastern Cape, sites associated with the Mandela Route in the Western Cape; the site of the Mayibuye Uprising in the Northern Cape and the Matiwane Museum in KwaZulu-Natal.

The department, through the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), has rehabilitated and refurbished the graves of Struggle stalwarts, including leaders of the liberation movements like Messrs Mapikela, Moroka, Sobukwe, Biko and others.

Construction of the National Heroes’ Acre, which is part of the RLHR, is expected to commence in 2020/21.

Community library services

The community library services grant aims to transform urban and rural community library infrastructure, facilities and services, targeting previously disadvantaged communities, through a recapitalisation programme at the provincial level.

Over the medium term, the department plans to procure computers and library material for provinces to ensure the consistent delivery of services to the public.

It also plans to build 96 new libraries and upgrade 150 community libraries over the medium term period. In collaboration with the Department of Basic Education, the department also plans to build 70 dual library service points to support school curricula and enhance learning outcomes.

Cultural and creative industries

Through the Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy, the DAC aims to ensure that the arts sector contributes to inclusive economic growth, job creation, artist development and urban renewal by creating employment opportunities in the arts, culture and heritage sector, thereby stimulating the broader economy.

The strategy involves activities such as arts festivals, touring ventures, public art projects, and engagement in the cultural and creative industries, through which the department can create employment.

Facilitating nation-building and social cohesion

Community conversations provide a space for people from diverse backgrounds to find levers for social cohesion within their communities towards bridging divisions.

Over the medium term, the department plans to host community conversations to provide a platform for individuals and organisations to discuss their perceived differences, and form a common understanding of what it means to be South African.

The National Social Cohesion Summit, which takes place every five years, aims to gauge progress made in achieving the resolutions adopted at the previous summit. It provides an opportunity for government, business, labour, youth formations, the media and civil-society organisations to work together to address social issues.

The DAC has implemented programmes to showcase the talents of people with disabilities. The programmes include the Zwakala Awards, designed to recognise the abilities of children with hearing disability. The event serves as a tool to create awareness of the silent minority that is cut off from the hearing world due to prejudice, and lack of tolerance and understanding.

New names of towns

The standardisation of geographical names is a process driven by the public and municipalities. 
It culminates in the Minister of Arts and Culture approving or rejecting a recommendation for a name change from the SAGNC. The SAGNC Act of 1998 does not provide for the Minister and the SAGNC to directly initiate name changes.

The names of towns that have been changed in the post-democratic dispensation and in more recent years include the following:

  • Limpopo: Bela-Bela (formerly Warmbaths); Lephalale (Ellisras); Modimolle (Nylstroom); Mokopane (Potgietersrus); Musina (Messina); Polokwane (Pietersburg); Senwabarana (Bochum); Mogwadi (Dendron); Morebeng (Soekmekaar); Modjadjiskloof    (Duiwelskloof) and Mookgophong (Naboomspruit).
  • Mpumalanga: eMalahleni (Witbank); eManzana (Badplaas); KwaDukuza (Stanger); Mashishing (Lydenburg); Makhazeni (Belfast); Emgwenya (Waterval Boven); eNtokozweni (Machadodorp); Mbombela; (Nelspruit); eMkhondo (Piet  Retief) and Thuli Fakude (Leandra).
  • Free State: Mamafubedu (Petrus Steyn), Hlohlolwane (Clocolan) and Intabazwe (Harrismith).
  • Eastern Cape: James Calata (Jamestown); Maletswai (Aliwal North); Cacadu (Lady Frere); Komani (Queenstown); Khowa (Elliot); KwaBhaca (Mount Frere); MaXesibeni (Mount Ayliff); Dikeni (Alice) and Makhanda   (Grahamstown).
  • KwaZulu-Natal: eMthonjaneni (Melmoth).
  • Gauteng: Sophiatown (Triomf).
  • Western Cape: Bo-Kaap (Schotchekloof).

Cultural Development

National Art Bank (NAB)

The NAB, which was launched in December 2017, at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein in the Free State, will provide the opportunity for South African artists to receive exposure locally as well as internationally. It features 54 artworks by 32 different artists from eight provinces.

The main purpose of the NAB is to procure and curate South African art works and to lease the art works to government departments, its institutions and South African embassies around the world for a minimum period of two years.

The NAB will further promote, support and supplement the income of contemporary South African artists.

Debut Fund

The Debut Fund Programme, which was launched in July 2017 in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, is a partnership between the DAC and the Business Association of South Africa (BASA). It is designed to create training, mentoring and funding opportunities for young artists from all disciplines making their debut appearance as professional artists in their respective art forms.

The Debut Fund allows young artists to, among other things, publish their first book, produce their first play, cut their first album or host their first exhibition. It will be linked to a mentorship programme to ensure that the aspirant arts professionals have the best possible advice and guidance to sustain their careers.

The mentorship programme will include elements such as Train-the-Trainer (which involves artist recruitment), workshops, reviewing of assignment submissions, and providing feedback to potential delegates under the guidance and supervision of the BASA in-house facilitator.

Young Patriots Programme

The Young Patriots Programme was launched in 2016 to encourage young people to participate actively in building the capacity of the arts, culture and heritage sector, and gain meaningful skills through service delivery improvement and moral regeneration initiatives, and the youth social cohesion advocates programme.

National Heritage Monument

The work on the NHM at Groenkloof Nature Reserve in Pretoria started in 2015. The main components of the NHM is the monumental parade of more than 400 life-size sculptural bronze representations of individuals across all social spectrums who have contributed to South Africa’s struggle for democracy and liberation, depicting a generational ‘Long March to Freedom’.

By mid-2018, the department had provided funds for the erection of 56 statues of heroes andheroines from the pre-colonial until the anti-apartheid struggle era.


South Africa is a multilingual country. The Constitution of the Republic of South of 1996 guarantees equal status to 11 official 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 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

Some of the organisations which are playing an active role in upholding the mandate of the DAC include the following:

  • The National Heritage Council engages heritage stakeholders in public and private institutions, including the various organs of civil society, mobilises debates and builds awareness about heritage.
  • The SAHRA is the national administrative management body for the protection of South Africa’s cultural heritage.
  • The National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC) facilitates opportunities for people to practice and appreciate the arts.
  • The National Film and Video Foundation develops and promotes the film and video industry in South Africa.
  • The Pan South African Language Board is a constitutional institution that promotes an awareness of multilingualism as a national resource and supports previously marginalised languages.
  • The SAGNC is an advisory body that facilitates name changes by consulting with communities to advise the Minister of Arts and Culture.
  • Arts institutions such as the:

Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM)

The objective of the MRM is to contribute to the development of a caring society by reviving the spirit of Ubuntu/Botho (humanity). It also seeks to realise the values and ideals enshrined in the Constitution.


Some of the different arts and cultural festivals in South Africa include the following:

  • The Aardklop National Arts Festival is held annually in October in Potchefstroom, North West. Although it is inherently Afrikaans, it is universal in character.
  • Arts Alive International Festival in Newtown in Johannesburg provides the best in homegrown and overseas entertainment in September.
  • The Cape Town International Jazz Festival features international and African artists. It also features photographic and art exhibitions.
  • The Grahamstown National Arts Festival at the end of July is the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent and consists of drama, dance, theater, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art exhibitions, film, lectures, a craft fair and workshops, as well as a children’s arts festival.
  • The Kirkwood Wildlife Festival attracts visitors to see the game animal auction, agricultural exhibitions.
  • The Dance Umbrella is a festival of contemporary choreography and dance, presenting work ranging from community-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.
  • The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees, a vibrant festival for the performing arts, is held annually in Oudtshoorn and presentations include drama, cabaret, and contemporary and classical music.
  • The Moretele Park Tribute Concert is an annual festival which is held at Moretele Park in Mamelodi, Pretoria.
  • The Cape Town Minstrel Festival sees the minstrels taking over the streets of Cape Town (Mother City) annualy on 2 January for a parade that dates back to the mid-19th century. More than 13 000 minstrels in over 70 troupes parade throughout the city centre in their colourful garb.
  • The Mangaung African Cultural Festival in Bloemfontein is one of the biggest cultural tourism events in southern Africa. This 10-day festival in October 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 Music Festival near Northam in North West offers 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 held in February on the banks of the Breede River near Swellendam in the Western Cape.
  • The White Mountain Folk Festivalin the Central Drakensberg 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 musicians.
  • 503 Music Festival takes place twice a year in KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal. It is all about celebrating and thanking icons who were born and raised in the area, also bringing other national icons to the township.

Other festivals that attract both national and international visitors are: Innibos in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga; Taung Cultural Calabash in North West; the Awesome Africa Music Festival in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal; the Windybrow Theatre Festival in Johannesburg; Hilton Arts Festival in KwaZulu-Natal, and the One City Many Cultures in Cape Town, Western Cape.

Cultural tourism

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


There are over 100 active venues across the country offering everything from indigenous drama, music, dance, cabaret and satire to classical opera and ballet. Performing arts institutions which receive annual transfers from the DAC include the South African State Theatre, The Playhouse Company, Artscape Theatre, The Market Theatre and the Performing Arts Council of the Free State.


Music is one of the key cultural industries identified 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 significant 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.

The 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. 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 kwêla music of the 40s and 50s, are being redefined; 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 popular, 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 winners of the 23rd annual SAMAs, held at Sun City in North West on 27 May 2017, were:

  • Best Newcomer of the Year: Amanda Black – Amazulu.
  • Best Album of the Year:Kwesta – Dakar II.
  • Best Duo or Group of the Year:Black Motion –Ya Badimo.
  • Best Female Artist of the Year: Amanda Black –Amazulu.
  • Best Male Artist of the Year: Kwesta –Dakar II.
  • Record of the Year: Nasty C –Hell Naw.
  • Best Album of the Year: Kwesta –Dakar II.
  • Best Rock Album: Albert Frost – The Wakeup.
  • Best Pop Album: GoodLuck – The Nature Within.
  • Best Afro Pop Album (2017): Vusi Nova – Vusi Nova.
  • Best Adult Contemporary Album: Hugh Masekela – No Borders.
  • Best Maskandi Album: Khuzani – Inyoni yomthakathi.
  • Best Classical Instrumental Album: Charl du Plessis Trio – Baroqueswing Vol.II.
  • Best African Indigenous Gospel Album: Living In Christ Legends – Living In Christ Legends.
  • Beste Kontemporere Musiek Album: Joshua na die Reen –Die Wereld Binne My.
  • Best Rap Album: Kwesta – Darak II.
  • Best Kwaito Album: Dr Malinga – Goodwill.
  • Best Dance Album: Black Motion – Ya Badimo.
  • Best Traditional Faith Music Album: Sprit of Praise – Spirit of Praise Vol.6.
  • Best African Adult: Soul Kulture – Ngeliny’ilanga.
  • Best Alternative Music Album: Native Young – Kings.
  • Best R&B/Soul/Reggae Album: Amanda Black – Amazulu.
  • Best Contemporary Faith Music Album: Khaya Mthethwa – The Dawn.
  • Beste Pop Album: ADAM – Hoogtevrees.
  • Best Jazz Album: Nduduzo Makhathini with Umgidi Trio and One Voice Vocal Ensemble –Inner Dimensions.
  • Best Classical and/Instrumental Album: Charl du Plessis Trio – Baroqueswing Vol. II.
  • Best Traditional Music Album: Dr Thomas Chauke Na Shinyori Sisters – Shimatsatsa No 34: Xiganga.
  • Best African Artist: Patoranking – Patoranking.
  • Best Live Audio Visual Recording: Khaya Mthethwa – The Dawn.
  • Best Collaboration: Kwesta – Ngud’.
  • Best Music Video of the Year: Miss Pru – Ameni.
  • Best Produced Album of the Year: Sjava – Isina Muva.
  • Best Engineered Album of the Year: Arno Carstens – Aandblom 13.
  • Best Remix of the Year: Vic – Wena Wedwa (MusicCraftMAN Mix).
  • Best Selling DVD of the Year: Joyous Celebration – 20.
  • Best Selling Digital Artist: Sfiso Ncwane – Ngipholise Nkosi.
  • Best Selling Album of the Year: My Hart Bly In n Taal – Refentse.
  • CAPASSO Best Selling Digital Download Composer’s Award: Sfiso Ncwane – Ngipholise Nkosi.
  • SAMRO Highest Airplay of the Year: Ngud – Kwesta.
  • SAMPRA Highest Airplay of the Year: Ngud – Kwesta.

The winners of the 24th annual SAMAs held at Sun City in North West on 2 June 2018 were:

  • Album of the Year: Shekhinah – Rose Gold.
  • Best Duo or Group of the Year: Mafikizolo – 20.
  • Best Newcomer of the Year: Shekhinah – Rose Gold.
  • Best Male Artist of the Year: Prince Kaybee – I am Music.
  • Best Female Artist of the Year: Shekhinah – Rose Gold.
  • Best Rock Album: Fokofpolisiekar – Selfmedikasie.
  • Beste Pop Album: Kurt Darren – Laat Die Dansvloer Brand.
  • Best Pop Album: Tresor – The Beautiful Madness.
  • Beste Kontemporere Musiek: Jo Black – Skepe.
  • Best Adult Contemporary Music: Wouter Kellerman and Soweto Gospel Choir – Symphonic Soweto.
  • Best African Adult Album: Siseko Pame – Ilanga.
  • Best Alternative Music Album: Bongeziwe Mabandla – Mangaliso.
  • Best R&B/Soul/Reggae Album: Afrotraction – Relationships.
  • Best Hip Hop Album: Shane Eagle – Yellow.
  • Best Kwaito Album: Busiswa – Highly Flavoured.Best Dance Album: Lady Zamar – King Zamar.
  • Best Traditional Faith Music Album: Andile KaMajola – Andile KaMajola Chapter 8 Sekwanele.
  • Best Contemporary Faith Music Album: Nqubeko Mbatha – Heaven’s Ways.
  • Best Maskandi Album: Abafana Baka Mgqumeni – 6 to 6.
  • Best Jazz Album: Nduduzo Makhathini – Ikhambi.
  • Best Classic Instrumental Album: Charl du Plessis Trio – Baroqueswing Vol. III.
  • Best Live Audio Visual Recording: Donald – Red Mic Xperience.
  • Best Collaboration: Sun_EL Musician ft Samthing Soweto - Akanamali.
  • Best Music Video of the Year: Rouge – Arumtumtum.
  • Best Produced Album: Goldfish – Late Night People.
  • Best Engineered Album: Mafikizolo – 20.
  • Best Remix of the Year: Mobi Dixon – I got you.
  • Best Afro Pop Album: Mafikizolo – 20.
  • Best African Indigenous Gospel: Vuma Zion – Samson Aphi Amandla Akho.
  • Best African Artist: Simphiwe Dana – The Simphiwe Dana Symphony Experience.
  • Best Selling Album of the Year: Joyous Celebration – Joyous Celebration Volume 21 Heal Our Land.
  • SAMPRA Highest Airplay Award: un-EL Musician ft Samthing Soweto – Akanamali.
  • Record of the Year: Distruction Boyz ft Benny Maverick & Dladla Mshunqisi – Omunye.
  • SAMPRA Highest Airplay Song of the Year: Sun-EL Musician ft Samthing Soweto – Akanamali.
  • SAMPRA Highest Airplay Composer’s Award: Sun-EL Musician ft Samthing Soweto – Akanamali.
  • CAPASSO Best Selling Digital Download Composer’s Award: Timothy Bambelela Myeni – Joyous Celebration Volume 21.

South African Traditional Music Achievement (SATMA) Awards

The SATMA Awards are aimed at promoting, preserving, uplifting, developing, honouring and awarding traditional musicians across racial and ethnic backgrounds. The 13th SATMA Awards ceremony took place at Mmabatho Convention Centre on 29 September 2018 and the winners were:

  • Best Song of the Year: Izindlovukazi ZikaMageba – Akusiwo umuthi umuntu.
  • Best Vernacular Hip Hop Song: Papzito – Rain in Limpopo.
  • Best Indigenous Comedian: Hallo M.
  • Best Male Artist: Majotha – Obhuti Engibaxoshayo.
  • Best Female Artist: Buselaphi – Umakhanda khanda.
  • Best Traditional Dance Group: Dithaga Tsa Ga Mme Halenyane – Moulu Wa Pitse.
  • Best Poet: MaGcwabe Imbongi – Izithembiso ezaphuka.
  • Best Praise Singer: Jessica Mbangeni – Jessica Mbangeni Sings iGoli @ Lyric Theatre.
  • Best Newcomer Artist: Ezendidane – Ikheshi Lodadooh.
  • Best Maskandi: Amageza Amahle – Inhlesa nenhlama.
  • Best Mbaqanga: Sphamandla Masondo – Baba Wami
  • Best Boeremusiek: Die Ventertjies – Wikkel Vingers
  • Best Indian: Vernon Govender – Bhakthi Sangeedam.
  • Best Setswana: Dinonyane Cultural Group – Pitse.
  • Best IsiNdebele: Mhlokonywa KaBungela – Igwabo Lakwa Pondo.
  • Best IsiXhosa: 100% Ncobela – U-Level.
  • Best Xitsonga: Sir Jambatani 9 – Milorho.
  • Best Sepedi: Seremi – Makgaritlana.
  • Best Sesotho: Haeso Ha Ramatla No.3 – Haeso Ha Ramatla No.3
  • Best TshiVenda: Mazwale vol 3 – Vhuhadzi ndi nama ya Thole.
  • Best African: Jazz Azah – Batswadi.
  • Best Reggae: Black Jahman – Peace Teacher.
  • Best Accapella (Isicathamiya): Thee Legacy – Thee Legacy
  • Best Cultural Electronic Media Journalist: Zimkhita Manqinana.
  • Best Cultural Print Media Journalist: Lulamile Feni.
  • Traditional Radio Programme Loyal Listener: William Mahlangu.
  • Best Traditional Community Radio DJ: Siyaxola Sobantu.
  • Best Department of Art and Culture: Mpumalanga.
  • Best Traditional TV Programme Show Album: Golden Circle.
  • Best Traditional Music Air-Play Radio Station of the Year: Ligwalagwala FM.
  • Best Traditional Music Radio Programme of the Year: Lwesuka Lutfuli.
  • Best Traditional Radio Presenter of the Year: Monwabisi Bangi – “Gudla”.


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, from 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.


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.

The annual National Book Week (NBW) was celebrated from 3 to 9 September 2018 and the NBW mascot, Funda Bala, visited new regions in all nine provinces of South Africa to reignite the African passion for stories told by the fireside to the beat of a drum.

Each regional community hosting a NBW event in September showcased their storytelling style and tradition, encouraging appreciation of their local talent and mother tongue. This culminated in a storytelling festival at the South African Book Fair on 7 September.

The theme for the 2018 event was #OURSTORIES, which was intended to highlight not only the fact that storytelling is deeply ingrained in African culture, but that South Africans could and should be the authors of their own stories.

The primary aims of the NBW is to:

  • promote and entrench a culture of reading in South Africa particularly in schools;
  • raise awareness of the critical role reading has to play in fostering socio-economic development
  • celebrate books as a means of facilitating and supporting education, culture and heritage;
  • improve access to books and other forms of printed media;
  • showcase and increase indigenous language publishing;
  • showcase South African and African writers, publishers, booksellers and related businesses;
  • raise the profile of the South African book industry with an emphasis on small, medium and micro enterprises operating in the industry;
  • facilitate skills and enterprise development across the entire book industry value chain;
  • form partnerships with other African countries that celebrate NBW; and
  • create awareness of both NBW and the South African Book Fair through various media channels.

South African Literary Awards (SALA) 2017

The SALA aims is to pay tribute to South African writers who have distinguished themselves as ground-breaking producers and creators of literature, while it celebrates literary excellence in the depiction and sharing of South Africa’s histories, value systems and philosophies and art as inscribed and preserved in all the languages of South Africa, particularly the official languages.

The 12th SALA ceremony was held on 7 November 2017 in Pretoria. The winners were:

  • First-time Published Author Award: Moses Shimo Seletisha ( Tšhutšhumakgala).
  • Creative Non-Fiction Award: Dikgang Moseneke (My Own Liberator).
  • Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award: Nthikeng Mohlele – Pleasure
  • Poetry Award: Simphiwe Ali Nolutshungu (Iingcango Zentliziyo) and Helen Moffett (Prunings).
  • Chairperson’s Award: Prof Themba Christian Msimang.
  • Lifetime Achievement Literary Award: Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, Aletta Matshedisð Motimele and Etienne Van Heerden, for their body of work.
  • Posthumous Literary Award: |A!kunta, !Kabbo, ≠Kasin, Dia!kwain and |Han≠kass’o for honouring the work of the Khoi and San.
  • Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award: Roela Hattingh (Kamee).
  • Literary Journalism Award: Don Makatile and Phakama Mbonambi, for their body of work.

SALA 2018

The 13th SALA ceremony was held in Pretoria on 6 November 2018. The winners were:

  • First-time Published Author Award: Malebo Sephodi (Miss Behave).
  • Creative Non-Fiction Award: Jurgen Schadeburg (The Way I See It).
  • Poetry Award: Kelwyn Sole (Walking, Falling).
  • Chairperson’s Award: Peter Magubane, for his body of work.
  • Lifetime Achievement Literary Award: Ronnie Kasrils and Hermann Giliomee, for their body of work.
  • Posthumous Literary Award: Leon Roussow and SM Mofokeng, for their body of work.
  • Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award: Nick Mulgrew (The First Law of Sadness) and Nicole Jaekel Strauss (As In Die Mond).
  • Literary Journalism Award: Sam Mathe, for his body of work.
  • National Poet Laureate Prize:Mongane Wally Serote, for his body of work.
  • Children’s Literature Award: Jaco Jacobs (Daar’s Nie ‘N Krokodil In Hierdie Boek Nie/Moenie Hierdie Boek Eet Nie).
  • Literary Translators Award: Peter Tshobisa Mtuze and Jeff Opland (Umoya Wembongi: Collected Poems 1922 – 1935) by John Solilo and Iziganeko Zesizwe: Occasional Poems (1900-1943) by S.E.K. Mqhayi.


The South African Government recognises the significant 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 film production industry. The Foreign Film and Television Production incentive aims to attract foreign-based film productions to shoot on location in South Africa, and the South African Film and Television Production and Co-production incentive aims to assist local film 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 filmmakers 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
  • North West Film Festival
  • Apollo Film Festival in Victoria West
  • Three Continents Film Festival (specialising in African, South American and Asian films)
  • Soweto Film Festival
  • Encounters Documentary Festival, which alternates between Cape Town and Johannesburg.


South Africa has more than 300 museums ranging from museums of geology, history, the biological sciences and the arts, to mining, agriculture, forestry and many other disciplines.

The Nelson Mandela Museum in Soweto, Johannesburg had signed a partnership with Google to launch the Google Expedition that would provide a virtual tour of the museum.

In December 2018, Cabinet approved the Policy Framework on National Museums, which aims is to transform the management and operations of museums in terms of access, redress, equity, nation-building and social cohesion.

The policy proposes the clustering of museums into new management structures to achieve economies of scale by reducing the number of councils. It also provides for the grading of all the museums according to qualities, scope and significance to enable equitable funding allocations.

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 as far as is reasonably possible, a national LIS to serve blind and print-handicapped readers in South Africa.

It is partly state-funded and depends for the remainder of its financial 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 standards for the production of such documents and researches production methods and technology in the appropriate fields.

It also acquires, manufactures and disseminates the technology 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 with 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.

It equips blind people with the skills they need to fully and independently participate in society.This includes support in living without assistance, getting about, using technology, reading, working and socialising.

Source: Pocket Guide to South Africa

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