It has been close to two decades since the National Arts Council (NAC) was instituted, and in that period, we have seen how the local creative community has come together to form a dynamic industry. In this, the NAC has been a key roleplayer that has solidly stuck to its mission to develop and promote excellence in the arts. However, we realise that to fulfil our mandate, we cannot focus on the grant awarding but that we also need to leverage strategic partnerships and resources to offer our beneficiaries value adding services that will develop, support, promote and advance the arts.
These strategic partnerships can be viewed as different parts of a robust machine in the arts sector. A machine is unable to function without critical parts and furthermore, prolonged operation without key components will threaten to bring the system to a halt. Similarly, without key strategic partnerships and collaborations, the promise of what we set out to achieve may be threatened. As an organisation, the NAC is a vital component in the machine that drives the development of the arts sector. On a national, provincial and local level, we have supported various projects to enable artists and arts organisations resulting in numerous of these projects growing into vibrantly collaborative partnerships. This year, the NAC will strongly focus on facilitating strategic national and international relationships to foster cooperative agreements between individuals and organisations in respect to the arts.
Our partnerships and engagements with the likes of the International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies (IFACCA), participation at the NEPAD Regional Conference on Arts Education in Africa and the NAC’s cultural engagements with Canada and France demonstrates the importance and the benefits of collaboration in taking the arts sector forward. Collective action is the keystone to success. For us as the NAC, building strategic relationships is merely the beginning. We need to ensure that that we forge strategic partnerships that are not only meaningful but translate into positive action and value for our sector.
Strategic partnerships should assist us with advancing the arts but more importantly give us the opportunity to highlight the importance of arts and culture in society. Through collaboration we can gain insight through research and an understanding of global best practices. We can work together in finding solutions that deal with global issues such as environmental sustainability and how the arts can play a role. Furthermore, such partnerships enable us to position the arts and culture sector as a key driver for socio-economic growth.
The support, development and promotion of the South African arts sector, both locally and internationally, is not a solitary action; and as a whole, the creative industry cannot operate in a vacuum. In the same manner that creative processes are driven by the need to connect the seemingly disconnected, finding solutions and innovating where others don’t see opportunities. We continuously need to look for new partnerships and opportunities for collaboration, thereby strengthening the arts and culture sector and the country in its entirety.