SA cultural economy added R74.4bn to GDP

The local cultural and creative industry contributed R74.4bn to the country's GDP, a study claims.
The local cultural and creative industry contributed R74.4bn to the country's GDP, a study claims.
Image: 123RF

South Africa's cultural and creative industry contributed R74.4bn to the country's GDP between 2016 and 2018, according to a new study released yesterday.

Titled "Economic Mapping of the Cultural and Creative Industries in South Africa 2020", the study that was released by the South African Cultural Observatory (Saco) suggested that the creative industry's direct contribution to GDP was 1.7% in that period.

The biggest contributor was design and creative services with 50% of the total. The sector includes fashion design and advertising. Performing arts contributed 3.4% of the total to the GDP, while audio visual and interactive media contributed 11%.

The study showed that the cultural and creative industry was one of the biggest employers in SA, creating about 1.3 million jobs between 2016 and 2018.

The research project was co-ordinated and led by the Nelson Mandela University, in partnership with Rhodes University, University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Fort Hare.

Saco executive director Unathi Lutshaba said: "As our society grapples with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important that we have a full grasp of the various sectors that drive our economic and social life as this will assist policy-makers and society at large in shaping our response and interventions, especially those meant to benefit the sector.

"This report is thus instructive in us understanding the economics of the cultural and creative sector."

Industry experts and stakeholder feel that the report will assist the national government when allocating funds.

Dr Sipho Sithole, a research fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study at University of Johannesburg, said: "The report re-emphasised how important the cultural and creative industry is to the entire country. It is growing faster than others. What is interesting is that 1.3 million jobs are created in this industry. Of that 1.3 million, 83.6% are black people. What does that mean? It means that during this lockdown, people who are mainly affected are black people."

Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of SA president Joy Mbewana, said: "It is quite disturbing when you [are] looking at the allocation of funds by national government. The inadequate funds allocated to the cultural and creative industries is a results of us failing to develop the arts and artists dying as paupers."

Vusumuzi Mkhize, director-general at the department of sport, arts & culture, said the department welcomed the report because it was going to assist it in terms of the interventions the sector needs.

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