The Campaign for Free Expression

Daily Maverick

Suppressing the arts – patronage, mismanagement and censorship in the cultural sector

November 7, 2023

Artists and other cultural workers are deeply concerned about the politicisation of boards and leadership in their sector and its impact on their ability to do their work and the sector’s ability to grow.

A report released this week by the Campaign for Free Expression (CFE), The State of Free Expression in the South African Cultural Sector: An Investigation, has highlighted how the Cultural Institutions Act of 1998 has given the minister of sports, arts and culture overarching power in selecting board members and chairpersons of arts funding agencies.

This is of great concern to cultural workers because the minister himself – as well as the ministers who have preceded him – have had little knowledge of the arts.

Culture workers said an environment has been created where many board members and chairpersons are appointed not because of merit, skill or knowledge, but through their proximity to and agreeability towards the minister. This has affected the sector as the needs of cultural workers have been neglected for the sake of power and money.

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Thokozani Mbwana

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