United Colours of Africa
Music and Festivals in South Africa by Jen Snowball SACO
Following an international trend, the number of cultural festivals, most of which include music, have increased dramatically in South Africa in the last 20 years.
Festivals provide a great opportunity for artists to showcase their work, learn from other artists, and generate the professional networks that are so important for production in the cultural and creative industries (CCIs).
On the demand side, audiences get to experience a wide range of genres (building their own cultural capital) over a short time, socialise with friends and family, and perhaps even meet new people from different backgrounds, helping to build social cohesion.
Festivals also have a significant economic, or financial, impact on their host cities. For example, a study done at the 2013 11-day National Arts Festival (NAF) found that t he total economic impact of the NAF was calculated at R91 million on the Grahamstown economy and between R350 and R370 million on the Eastern Cape as whole.
But even smaller events can contribute: Buyel'Ekhaya Pan-African Music Festival, a one day even held in Buffalo City had an economic impact of R25.8 million in 2014.
The economic impact of a festival depends on the number of tourists it attracts from outside the region, on how much they spend, and how much of that spending stays in the host city as a result of using local suppliers for the goods and services that festivals need to run.
In 2014, the South African Department of Arts and Culture commissioned a study of the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs), A random sample of more than 2 500 of these organisations, including 620 producers in the “Performance and Celebration Domain”, were interviewed. Of the 100 Festival and Event companied interviewed, 75% had a least one black, coloured or Indian-origin owner, 45% of whom were women. 62% reported that their main market was SA households or individuals, 28% were non-profit companies, and the average number of employees was 13.4.
Challenges identified by CCIs in the Performance and Celebration sector were mostly around funding and budget constraints, inconsistent and unreliable business, and the high costs of operating and maintain an office. Opportunities and determinants of success most often mentioned were the growing demand for their products and services, the ability to share skills and expertise with surrounding communities and to create jobs. The benefits of a good networking, which helped to grow business through exposure to new ideas and referrals to new clients, were also mentioned.
The realisation that the cultural and creative industries encompass much more that the “subsidised arts” and can make important contributions to economic growth and job creation prompted the establishment of the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) in 2015, funded by the Department of Arts and Culture. SACO is a national research centre which support the collection and analysis of data on the CCIs, and conducts policy relevant research on the economic and social value of the arts, culture and heritage sectors in South Africa.
One of the current SACO projects is to test a valuation framework for publically funded events, like music festivals. Case studies include the Royal Heritage Festival in Vhembe, MACUFE in Bloemfontein, and the Indoni Youth Festival in Durban.
Interview Monica Newtown
Deputy director-general: Arts and Culture Promotion and Development
It is great to see that the festivals are consolidating their market position. These big festivals have always been successful. Where we have supported, we have supported on the periphery. We don't always get involved in every festival but we support about 25 major regional and national festivals throughout the year and about 100 to 150 on an ad hoc basis. That is very much an initiative under the Mzansi Golden Economy strategy that recognised that live events were a fundamental part of creating economic opportunity for artists; technical services; production people, lighting, roadies, and those kinds of guys and also because of the local economic development and impact.
From our perspective, it is always balanced with the notion that not everything has to be economic. We do support cultural festivals that have very little economic impact but speak to indigenous culture or things of value to communities. They have no particular economic impact because the impact of festivals comes not from people in the area spending money but people from the outside coming in to spend money and that's where you see Cape Town International Jazz, Joy of Jazz and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown with so many people coming in from outside the geographic region; that that is where you see huge economic impact.
In 2014 research done by Rhodes University for the National Arts Festival estimated that the festival in terms of its regional impact on the province of the Eastern Cape had a R400M impact and on the city itself a R90M which for an 11 day festival is kind of amazing. And when you think about the social and political economy of Grahamstown in some cases the jobs that folks in Grahamstown have during the festival are some of the only jobs they will have in the year. It is an incredibly important event for small towns. KKNK has a similar impact on a small town like Oudsthoorn. “In die Bos?” Nelspruit is a fairly larger regional economy but also has a very significant impact.
Is there a partnership with Standard Bank?
We all work together to make the big festivals happen because the reality in many cases is that these are R30 – 40M machines. And obviously some of them are commercially orientated and some of them are less commercially orientated and we all come together. In the case of the National Arts Festival, for example the National Lottery Commission is the largest sponsor followed by ourselves. Standard Bank is no longer the headline sponsor; they now sponsor the jazz component, which is hugely successful. You have guys like Transnet who are long term sponsors of the Village Green. We all come together. We have to, to make the festivals happen.
In this current context where resources are really constrained, where many of the festivals have great ticket sales, and at the end of the day everyone needs help, so we all get together to support these major events as much as we can. Cape Town International Jazz, Joy of Jazz supported by corporate sponsors like Standard Bank, who is the headline sponsor, ourselves, Gauteng Province. They have deals with hotel groups like Tsogo Sun to make sure hotel accommodation for both their own purposes and festino's are at a reasonable rate. They have package deals with airlines, travel agents, so there really is a very large community of people that come together to make the festivals happen.
Is there a national statistic?
We have particular information about particular festivals we have been tracking over some time, but unfortunately the national picture is not complete. TREES which is a research unit at the University of the North West, did some research a couple of years ago that estimated that there were 600 festivals bringing in R600M to the economy if I recall correctly.
But we through the cultural observatory at the moment are really creating instrumentation to try and bring some degree of clarity to how we are doing research on festivals because then everybody has a different methodology so it is quite hard to give a grounded, reliable and credible comparison of them.
For example the independent study that Cape Town International Jazz might have done. The National Arts Festival might have done. And “In the Bos” might have done. The Observatory with Jen Snowball who had done the long term research of the National Arts Festival is really starting to put those methodology's in place. And we are starting to do a lot more consolidating work. A National picture? It is patchy.
You mentioned Mzansi Golden Economy?
It is a strategy that the DAC started implementing in 2011 that began to change the focus of our work which had previously been very central. The Mzansi Golden Economy strategy put in place a series of economic interventions that were aimed at broadly catalysing growth in the sector.
We are supporting key initiatives like economic insights through the cultural observatory.
We are creating an art bank which would essentially procure and rent out visual arts works through the National Museum in Bloemfontein. The Oliewenhuis gallery is the seat. But critically we started to create financial instruments that would look at cultural events, touring ventures and public art on the broadest possible scale to say that we regard a cultural event as anything from a film screening to a visual arts display to a music festival to a theatrical arts production. And that has opened up the field to us to begin to support live culture in public spaces for culture to tour internationally regardless of what the discipline is because we believe that South African work is amazing. South African work needs to find new audiences and build new markets. Those are the primary intentions of the Mzansi Golden Economy strategy.
When did you join?
From our perspective we have 26 public institutions that are part of our direct family. Those are performing arts institutions like the market theatre, Artscape, Playhouse Company, heritage institutions, Freedom Park; regulatory authorities, the South African Heritage Resources Agency and others. That represents the full quantum of the infrastructure that we own. Provincial government owns some theatres, some museums. Local government owns an enormous amount of cultural infrastructure. If you look at a city like Johannesburg, in Newtown itself, we own the Market Theatre and the National Arts Council, most of the other cultural infrastructures are owned by the city of Johannesburg. It is really important that festivals like Arts Alive really begin to animate those spaces. Equally each space has its own complexities. If you have a chance you should really talk to Peter Tladi about the move of Joy of Jazz from Newtown to Sandton Convention Centre. One of the complexities that Mr Tladi faced is that because of the way Newtown is organised there is a maximum number of people that can be contained within that space at any given time to ensure that the requisite safety provisions are met. And it is a binding constraint. Essentially no matter how big your festival grows you have to squeeze it into a particular geographic space. Eventually the festival needed to expand and couldn't expand in Newtown, hence the move quite controversially to the Sandton Convention Centre. Sandton is not the most cultural space, so it has been able to create a partial interest in Sandton which had never really happened before. And it takes over Sandton, in the Convention Centre, the piazza in the square. It animates certain hotels. It works in the shopping centre in its promotional activities. This is its third year in Sandton. It will be interesting to see if the long term prospects of it in Sandton is something that Mr Tladi will continue to do. Certainly the Sandton business district was thrilled to have the festival because it is such a huge draw-card. Research conducted by Gauteng a couple of years ago shows that over the weekend of Joy of Jazz they can actually see a spike in visitors. That is how many people are attracted to a festival as large as Joy of Jazz. It is on many top ten lists of jazz festivals all over the world. It will be 20 years next year.
If you think of the scale of those first festivals, they were tiny. And now they have expanded so exponentially and part of the challenge that we have is every new festival that comes to us, they see Joy of Jazz and they want to be Joy of Jazz. It is going to take you 20 years to get to that kind of point to build that loyalty base. There are 40 years of the NAF. When you look at festivals, in proposals we look to the extent that the folks implementing it have a clear strategy of what they want to do in the long term. Some festivals are not intended to have a 20 or 30 year life; that is fine we will support them. But where you want to have a large internationally recognised festival, you have to put in the work and the time.
Do you know the footprint of the festivals around the country, and the amount of people in general coming on cultural tourism?
Each individual festival will have its own individual profile. Our sense of the national framework is very patchy. Most festivals will have a local audience but will predominantly have an audience from outside. The economic impact of the festival will very much depend not on the money that is already circulating but money coming in from outside. A festival like Kalahari Desert festival in the Northern Cape which we support as a regional flagship has a very small economic impact. Its primary audience is people from the Northern Cape who in some cases have very little opportunity to see nationally or internationally recognised artists, but also an incredibly important platform for local artists to appear. So, we don't expect those kinds of festivals to have huge economic impact, but certainly the large festivals NAF,CTIJF, Buyele iKhaya, JOJ, Moretele, will have a fairly large economic impact precisely because they are bringing in audiences from outside. I think the NAF research in 2014 indicated that about 30% of the audience was from the EC but the bulk of them were from outside. When you look at a town like Grahamstown, the bulk of the population is fairly fluid because of the schools and the university. One would expect to see more external people at that festival because in all honesty the economy of the town can't support a festival of that size.
The TREE report shows that each festival did about R10M, not sure exactly how those figures were calculated but that is kind of the picture at the moment.
Difference between international and local is the festival circuit?
There are efforts to create regional festival networks across the continent and Tony Lancaster is part of that network but you have also got some quite interesting guys like Sipho Sithole with Sakifo festival in Durban. Working with IOMA and their festival Zakifo with a couple of other regional festivals like Bushfire are really beginning to create a circuit, but also a network. They are seeing that it is a valuable opportunity for them to get economy of scales, so they can bring out artists and share the cost of that artist touring regionally and also then to create a mechanism through which they can co-brand assist one another and work together. We are starting to see that happening but on a whole most festivals exist in a fairly small frame.
A big festival like the NAF obviously is a really essential part of the arts economy. It is almost like a research and development type of environment because new work is created for the festival. At the festival there are people like you and me, we are buying tickets, but Linda Buthulezi at the Playhouse Company. Ishmael taking up his new role at the Market Theatre will be there. Aubrey Sekhabi from State Theatre will be there: looking for shows that they can put on at their stages. We also have international festival buyers looking for work. They present an interesting opportunity for this work to travel beyond South African shores. They have such an important role in driving the arts economy. They are both a market as well as a testing environment, and in and of themselves an incredibly important social, cultural and economic event.
The role of the private and public sector?
Absolutely essential! In essence we need private investment, for entrepreneurs investing in the economy themselves to develop businesses. At the BASA awards held in Johannesburg on Monday, Ravi Naidoo was recognised as the creator, designer, founder and visionary that created the Design indaba. Here is an entrepreneur interested in design who invested himself in one of the largest design conferences and markets in the world, and that is essential because government can't do it alone.
Private sector sponsorship is absolutely fundamental to the arts. Without Standard Bank there probably wouldn't be a JOJ. Without the work that the Transnet foundation has done with the Village Green at the NAF, there wouldn't be a craft focus at the NAF, so it as absolutely fundamental that from marketing and CSI budgets, corporates continue to invest, but it is equally important that entrepreneurs and the private sector invest in businesses themselves. So we begin to see real hard economic investment in the arts and culture centre. While some of it will always be state subsidized and be essential for the life blood of the nation.
Our portfolio chairperson, Mr Xoliswa Tom was MEC of the EC and she always says, “Your culture is you. If you lose it you lose your identity and an important element of yourself.” We always need to balance out those elements but if we don't all invest and all invest in clearly stated objectives, the sector will really struggle. Although it will continue, it will not grow as expected.
We do know from an economic impact study we did in 2013 and I can send you the dry report. Based on the information which was a national study done for the first time across the entire country, the creative economy contributed 90 B to the South African GDP which represented 2.9% of GDP which is quite significant. The sector created directly and indirectly over 500 000 jobs. Mining in this country creates about 500 000 jobs. We are in our quite small and dispersed manner, very very impactful.
The predominant areas that we find the economic impact is design and creative services. Music, film, performing arts – those are the big areas where there are substantial opportunities for job creation and are driving investment. It has been an interesting study and we will repeat that study through the cultural observatory in a little while. I will send you that report, it will start to give you a picture regionally as there are statistics as well, but also nationally to give you a sense of that question of impact.
Given what we know about the changes in the music industry for example where recorded music revenues are dropping, live music revenues are rising. Absolutely the work that we do to support live events are absolutely fundamental to the livelihood of artists, to the lives of people.
We are starting to see the resurgence in Johannesburg of jazz venues like the Orbit, the Mahogany room continues to do great stuff in Cape Town. And those are so important for place making in cities, for keeping people in cities, for being attractive for people to come and live here; and creating a city that has a life beyond people just working here. The people really become invested in it. It is a huge enterprise to consider. But we are currently revising our rather elderly white paper of 1996 to bring our policy environment to a current point where we can begin to see what has been done in the past and what needs to be done in the future to ensure that we protect and preserve what we need to. That we promote and develop what we need to and most importantly that we begin to get a more coherent framework of how provincial government, local government and national government work together and how money is invested in one way or another. Resources are really scarce at the moment.
What about inter-regional collaborations?
We are starting to see a lot of work happening in fact I have just come back from India where a Brics film festival has been created. It started in India, It will move to China and it will come to us when we are the chair of Brics in 2018. Those really are very important mechanisms that begin to create through an organised framework – the cultural agreement we signed in Russia in 2015. And they begin to share the work – so we have 4 South African films, 4 Russian, 4 Brazilian, 4 Chinese and 4 Indian films. Filmmakers were interacting with each other through panel discussions. We had the Africa month programme where we are also starting to try and get into regional cooperation – SADAC and a couple of others to create opportunities for African artists here and for South African artists on the continent. Early days yet, we are still feeling our way. It is not quite as organised as we would like. There are countries where culture, cultural policy and cultural investment are very strong, countries where there is a lot less government focus. At the moment we are looking at small cultural seasons with Gabon and Algeria, and we will continue to roll out those programmes over the next 10 years.
The last question on infrastructure and sustainability?
It is such a huge question because obviously there is an environmental footprint because when you have people flying in, driving in to small towns where you might have constrained resources you suddenly have enormous numbers of people. The issues that Grahamstown and the NAF faced this year, working very closely with a very responsive city government to get things done I think it is a discussion we are going to have more and more with the festivals, and all stake holders especially city government stake holders because they are going to become important in helping us as festival organisers and festival supporters that are responsible to the environment. Lots of ideas circulating but nothing that is clear at the moment. Starting to think about how we make sure that festival goers recycle? One of the really amazing things about Africa Burn, in the Karoo, is that whatever you come in with, you have to take out. It is one of the principles of the festival because it is conscious of its environment. And those are the kind of things we need to be thinking about, making sure that festival goers are aware of the impact that they have on towns and cities and make sure we conscientise people to resourcing issues.
Environmental sustainability is an element that is covered in our white paper.
Some of the private festivals are leaders in this field. Is there any interaction?
There is a lot of interaction between festivals all the time. We as government are not necessarily part of every conversation. But it is certainly true that we should be talking to each other more. Publically funded, privately funded, independent festivals, because government itself organises some of the festivals – Mapungubwe for example, Macufe in the OVS are run by the provincial departments. It is absolutely true that we need to be talking more and that is something that we should be doing more of in the future, both in terms of making sure that we are not duplicating efforts but where there are efficiencies and assistances that can be done – absolutely. We have got festivals like Free festival in Bloemfontein, the old Vry-fees that is starting to work very closely with institutions in Bloemfontein like Kaaps, Ricardo Peech really leading the charge there to bring people in Bloemfontein together under the ambit of this festival, so there are very exciting things happening in the festival space.
Hazel Chimhandamba, head of Group Sponsorships at Standard Bank said,
What role does the private and public sector play in growing the creative economy?
The arts in Africa are a powerful expression of our creativity and play an integral part in generating a positive narrative with a global impact. Our mandate at Standard Bank is to support a wide range of initiatives that both nurture young talent and showcase the rich diversity of our creative arts. Our approach to selecting projects in the arts and music space is indicative of this. Standard Bank's commitment to investing across the arts spectrum on the continent represents a 30-year legacy and we are proud to provide ongoing support for a variety of key projects, which have evolved into highlights across the South African and African cultural calendar.
Our support of the arts in Africa extends to the sponsorship of the following programmes:
Standard Bank Art Gallery : The Standard Bank Gallery is an inspirational exhibition space, situated in the vibrant heart of downtown Jozi. Since opening in 1990, it has established itself as one of the city's principal fine art venues. The gallery offers a dynamic exhibition programme, serving as a testament to Standard Bank's true commitment to cultural development.
The Standard Bank African Art Collection is of historical significance for the insight it offers into development in Africa's culture. Jointly owned by Standard Bank and the University of the Witwatersrand, it includes pieces from all over Africa, but an emphasis on southern African art objects has helped to stem the flow of valuable artworks out of the country. The collection includes wood figurines, drums, masks, clothing and ritual objects as well as specialist areas such as beadwork, textiles and valuable ceramic pieces.
The Standard Bank corporate art collection is one of South Africa's most significant and representative corporate collections with over 1000 pieces that promotes work by local artists, we are committed to showcasing the best and most relevant works.
National Arts Festival: Standard Bank has been a presenting sponsor of the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent – the National Arts Festival – since 1997. Held over 11 days in the small city of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, Standard Bank is involved in a number of key areas of the Festival including the Standard Bank Jazz Festival, the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival, the Standard Bank Ovation Awards, the Children's Arts Festival and a new property, the Cape Town Fringe Festival which is also managed by the National Arts Festival.
Standard Bank Young Artist Awards: The National Arts Festival established the Young Artist Awards in 1981 to acknowledge emerging young South African artists who demonstrate an outstanding artistic talent. These prestigious awards are presented annually to deserving artists in different disciplines – dance, jazz, music, theatre, visual art, performance art and film – affording them national exposure and acclaim. Standard Bank took over the sponsorship of the awards in 1984 and has presented Young Artist Awards in all the major arts disciplines over their 33-year sponsorship, as well as posthumous and special recognition awards. The winners feature on the Main Programme of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and receive financial support for their Festival participation, as well as a cash prize.
Standard Bank Jazz: Standard Bank has sponsored one of South Africa's leading festivals – the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz – for 17 years. The festival speaks to the growth of the arts in Africa and jazz as a genre is an integral part of the history of South African music.
Standard Bank's support of live jazz on the continent continues to grow with the Stanbic Ghana Jazz Festival celebrating its third edition in 2016 and becoming one of Ghana's most anticipated music events.
The inaugural Stanbic Misty Festival was held in Lusaka Zambia in 2014 attracting thousands of jazz fans from across the country and the region.
In Malawi the jazz platform is Blue Mingoli which promotes local artists who share the stage with invited international artists.
Standard Bank partnered with the French Institute in Mauritius for the second time in 2016 for the “Blues dan Jazz”.
How did the first festivals begin and how have their numbers grown?
Jazz as a genre has deep roots in South Africa and Africa as a continent. It has been a part of our musical history without fading away amongst the newer genres in the industry today. It is an art form that continues to evolve naturally taking on new sounds and younger artists under its wings making it strongly relevant. Standard Bank is not an exclusive supporter of jazz alone, but we have committed to a broad representation of the arts in Africa and we are proud to have Jazz as one of them.
Standard Bank Joy of Jazz: Joy of Jazz made its first appearance at the State Theatre in Pretoria in 1997. The first Standard Bank Joy of Jazz took place in Newtown in 2000. It drew an audience of 1800. In 2014 Standard Bank Joy of Jazz relocated to Sandton to accommodate the growth in audiences which last year drew over 22 000 people. Over the years, the festival has established itself amongst the Top 10 Jazz events in the world drawing visitors from around South Africa, the African continent and the globe. Standard Bank Joy of Jazz partners include The Department of Arts and Culture, The City of Johannesburg, Gauteng Tourism, and South African Tourism. In 2016 more than 90 artists performed on 4 stages over 3 nights. Some of the artists at this year's festival included: Gerald Albright, Johnathan Butler, Jose James, Sibongile Khumalo, Sipho ‘Hotstix' Mabuse, Kendrick Scott, Lira, Kahil El' Zabar, Siya Makhuzeni (SBYA), Judith Sephuma, Concorde Nkabinde, Ringo and Moreira Chonguica. Standard Bank's sponsorship of the 2016 Standard Bank Joy of Jazz is in its 17 th year. The strategic objective when Standard Bank first partnered with the festival as a sponsor was to support the growth of a small musical event into the country's premier jazz festival; expose South African audiences to some of the world's best performers; give local artists an international platform and to grow audiences. The festival has a mix of South African, African and international artists reinforcing that Standard Bank's home is in Africa, with the bank operating in 20 territories. However, from the outset it was envisioned that Standard Bank Joy of Jazz would be much more than simply a three-day long Gauteng festival featuring musical heavyweights. The decision was taken to reach audiences and communities who didn't attend the festival through programmes such as Jazz Cares; free build-up concerts around the country in the build-up to the festival known as Road to Joy of Jazz ; musical workshops featuring some of the headline acts who lecture and tutor young students as well as a cultural exchange programmes which would see the sharing of skills and knowledge. This is in line with Standard Bank's sponsorship mandate which ensures that all sponsorship properties are underpinned by a socially relevant platform.
Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown: The Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown has grown in stature over the years and is now regarded as a serious international jazz festival that gives audiences a sense of the country's jazz heritage as well as new trends emerging from both within the continent and around the globe. It also includes significant collaborations between visiting musicians and their local counterparts. Jazz in Grahamstown has always been built on collaboration and sharing of skills and knowledge which has produced some magic over the years and driven the jazz conversation into new territory. And this year was amongst the most exciting line ups we've had. The Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown has become a litmus test of South Africa's jazz future and this year again presented some of the country's best young talent. Young Guns comprised Sisonke Xonti, Justin Bellairs, Thandi Ntuli, Romy Brauteseth and Claude Cozens while Cape Town duo The Kiffness has rapidly become one of South Africa's favourite live electronic acts, producing jazzy, groovy house music. Founder member David Scott first attended the Jazz Festival as a 13-year-old trumpeter and his musical partner, Clem Carr, was in the Standard Bank National Schools Jazz Band in 2003.
The Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival has been going for 23 years now, with more than 300 students and 40 teachers from different backgrounds attending every year. These students and teachers get the chance to interact and engage with 120 top musicians who form part of the concurrent Standard Bank Jazz Festival. The programme includes innovative jazz performances, rehearsals, workshops, lectures and networking, culminating in the top jazz students in South Africa auditioning for places in the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band (SBNYJB) and the Standard Bank National Schools Big Band (SBNSBB), the latter of which is regarded as the most significant single youth jazz development initiative in the country.
On the two separate adjudication panels for these bands are teachers, lecturers and leading musicians. The SBNYJB performs at major festivals around South Africa and occasionally tours internationally.
All other students who attend the festival are divided into mixed-ability big bands who practise daily, allowing students who do not normally play in a quality ensemble the chance to do so.
Statistically, how much are the festivals contributing to the economy and to tourism?
It has been estimated that Standard Bank Joy of Jazz currently injects approximately R600 million annually into the Gauteng economy. A report is conducted for the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown every 3 years. The next report is only due November/December 2016 but attached please find the last report (2013). From general observations though, the Festival audience is getting more diverse in terms of race and language and is also getting younger.
quote the source © 2017 African music, writing, philosophy and multi-media creations