Budget Vote 13 - Arts and Culture

Remarks by Hilda Msweli MP

   

6th May 2010

 

Honourable Chairperson,

 

The Department of Arts and Culture's primary aim is to develop and preserve South African arts and culture to ensure social cohesion and nation building.

 

We in the IFP recognise the central significance of arts, culture and heritage in the cultural, social and intellectual life of the country.

 

Like many other departments the Department of Arts and Culture's main area of focus now is the 2010 soccer World Cup.  We are concerned however that out of the six programmes of the Department of Arts and Culture the only Programme showing a marginal increase is Programme 1, Administration, at 0.51 percent.

 

Increasingly debilitating is Programme 2, Arts and Culture in Society which shows a real decrease of 22.15 percent. Most of this allocation goes to the National Arts Council (NAC). In real terms the budget of NAC which played a big role in arts funding has been decreased by R15 million.

 

Ironically, the President's State of the Nation Address re-iterated the important role played by Arts and Culture in Society. This is a trend which remained unchanged since at least the previous three budgetary cycles.

 

With the 2010 FIFA World Cup the rest of the world will be focused on South Africa so this is the ideal opportunity for us to showcase the country's art and culture during the sports extravaganza. It remains to be seen whether the Department's mandate and potential will be maximized to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the FIFA World Cup beyond 2010.   

 

There must be a greater effort to support and promote South African arts and cultural activities in all areas of our country and especially in the rural and underprivileged areas. This can have a positive social effect for the communities in these areas and lay the basis for long-term commitment to artistic excellence.

 

With more than half of our young unemployed, the IFP believes that arts and culture can have a positive effect on the lives of the youth, but the biggest challenge is ensuring that they have access to facilities and organisations that promote these activities.

 

Unlearned youth, especially those who have been unable to obtain a matric certificate pose a huge risk to social cohesion and community-mindedness.

These young people clearly do not have the best chances of becoming strong, healthy and participatory in society.

 

The Department of Arts and Culture could therefore play a constructive role to reduce crime and poverty as well as to increase health and development of marginalised young people.

 

The Department must be seen to provide real empowerment opportunities for unemployed people from the second economy through training and job creation in arts, culture and heritage. It should further provide access to markets and skills as a tool for urban renewal, rural development, and job creation.

 

Youth cultural groups and other creative organizations should have regular access to multipurpose arts support centres. At these centres they should have access to funding advice, advertising and planning skills in order to develop their capacity to grow. 

 

Another area of concern we have as the IFP is around the medium of instruction in schools. The right of learners to use the language of their choice in schools is very critical if we want to truly preserve our diverse cultures. 

 

South Africa is blessed with a rich and diverse cultural heritage and this is one of the defining features of our nation. It is important that these different cultures and traditions are not forgotten, they must not only be preserved and confined to museums and festivals but also kept alive and continue to be a part of our lives.

 

In the light of these budget cuts and with the FIFA World Cup on the spotlight, it is important that funds are spent wisely in this period, so wasteful spending and under spending must not be tolerated.

 

The IFP support the budget vote.

 

I thank you.