PREPARATION for the fourth World Summit on Arts and Culture is gaining momentum.

PREPARATION for the fourth World Summit on Arts and Culture is gaining momentum.

Just about time, too, because the artists were starting to ask questions about their participation in the event.

The summit, which is hosted by the National Arts Council of South Africa, and which takes place for the first time on the African continent, is scheduled for September 22 to 25 at Museum Africa in Newtown in Johannesburg.

Arts and culture councils from across the world will exchange information related to the arts and thrash out problems of funding and support .

The dates for the summit were announced about four weeks ago but since then there has been no communication with the artists in particular.

Southern African Theatre Initiative (Sati) executive secretary Mpho Molepo said that he was worried about the lack of communication about the event.

"We were invited to Cape Town early this year to discuss strategies about the participation of Africa, but ever since then we have been asking what now?" Molepo said.

"I think there is a need for greater communication with the artists, particularly about their participation. There seems to be a lack of effective communication channels in the arts.

"The summit will perhaps offer us an opportunity to revisit the issues of communication and consultation with artists and also who the beneficiaries will be."

Interestingly, the organisers announced a number of dates for a two-part dialogue event in preparation for the summit during the same week artists started raising questions.

Titled ArtSpeak, the talks are a platform for debate among art practitioners, art funding bodies, the media, academics and policy-makers.

The first ArtSpeak event is scheduled for tomorrow in Johannesburg at Museum Africa.

The ArtSpeak event is designed to discuss under-represented viewpoints and to challenge prevailing perceptions in arts and culture, the organisers said.

The topic for the first ArtSpeak event is Cultural Diversity: Essential for World Peace or the Root of All Conflict?

This interesting session will be chaired by prolific South African playwright Mike van Graan, who is the programme director of the summit.

Panellists are Andile Magengelele, a creative industries writer and consultant, and Veronique Tadjo, head of French studies in the School of Literature and Language Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Annabell Lebethe, chief executive officer of the Nationals Arts Council said: "The long-term success of the summit will ultimately hinge on the success stories of how the first World Summit on Arts and Culture propelled tangible growth in the arts sector, not only in South Africa but across the African continent.

"The ArtSpeak events are significant dialogues and planning platforms that could become the pulse for development in the sector if arts practitioners choose to pick up the gauntlet," Lebethe said.

"We look forward to stimulating debate with constructive and visionary inputs based on honest appraisals of the sector at large and its links to broader society.

"The NAC is committed to paving the way to a common purpose and to building an arts sector that will thrive as an industry."