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Released on: April 4, 2023

The State of Free Expression in the South African Cultural Sector: A Discussion

The Campaign for Free Expression (CFE) will be releasing an important report into the state of free
expression in South Africa’s cultural sector and hosting a discussion on the report on April 13 at the
forecourt of the Wits Art Museum at 18:00.
Cultural workers face many obstacles in exercising the right to free expression. Many artists believe
they are stifled and suppressed due to the politicisation of the boards of arts funding agencies. They
say they face the withdrawal of funds or sanctions if they speak out against maladministration, a lack
of transparency in application processes, inadequate leadership, and hostile reactions to provocative
work. These factors create an environment where many opportunities for the growth of their work and
the sector are lost.
The maladministration of the Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme (PESP), which was meant
to help the arts and culture sector at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, focused attention on how
the National Arts Council (NAC), in particular, mismanaged and mishandled the distribution of funds
and the selection of beneficiaries.
The CFE report and subsequent discussion will explore the factors that affect and disrupt growth and
sustainability in the arts and culture sector, as detailed by cultural workers. It explores the extent to
which political pressures lead to censorship and censorship to self-censorship, and the impact this has
on the ability of cultural workers to engage in their sector.
The report will be available at the event and from www.freeexpression.org.za.
You are invited to attend the discussion at 18.00 at the Wits Art Museum.
*The Campaign for Free Expressions is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation that defends and
promotes free expression for all across southern Africa.
Contact: Thokozani Mbwana
thokozani@freeexpression.org.za
066 200 2857

Media statement

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