By Edward Tsumele
The formation of a new independent (of government and political affiliation) the South Africa United Cultural and Creative Industries Federation (SAUCCIF) has ignited debate about whether two federations in the creative industry can co-exist.
Following the announcement of the formation of SAUCCIF on Thursday , October 22, by a number of arts organization s, effectively framing itself as an alternative to the government supported Creative Industry Federation of South Africa (CIFSA), it looks like the battle lines have been drawn between the two federations for the heart and minds of artists.
While SAUCCIF’s financial muscle is yet to be determined, and federations by the very nature of their work need financial backing, in order to be effective, CIFSA has the advantage of getting public funds ever since its formation about six years ago. Currently the word is that it has been supported to date by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) to the tune of R25 million. It is however difficult to confirm the figure as the federation has not made public its audited financial report If ever it exists. This has sparked immense speculation in the creative sector about whether CIFSA’s books are in good shape, given the opaque nature of its financial position, something that should be giving Treasury officials sleepless nights as this is clearly a contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
On the other hand, it will be interesting to see whether the newly formed SAUCIF will approach DSAC for funding in the same manner that DSAC has funded CIFSA for the past six years.
CIFSA was formed during the tenure of Paul Mashatile as Minister of Arts and Culture because at the time, government struggled to engage with the arts sector as the sector was fragmented and had no representative body. An d so public funds were made available through DSAC to sponsor not only CIFSA’s formation, but ever since government has been dishing out public funds to CIFSA to among other things hold its Annual General Meetings (AGMs), while some funds were channeled toward paying salaries of its elected officials.
But for now the debate in the creative sector is centered around the formation of the new kid on the block and whether this development is in fact heralding the demise of CIFSA, or just like the two labour federations in the country, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), the creative sector will now have to deal with two federations.
“Two giant federations for the Cultural and Creative Industries in South Africa- how did we get here (sifike njani laa macabane) -The Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA) -the South Africa United Cultural and Creative Industries Federation (SAUCCIF) asks rhetorically arts practitioner Thami aKa Mbongo on the social media platform of Im4theArts.
“The birth of SAUCCIF will raffle feathers of CCIFSA. The discussion now is whether CCIFSA’s mission must be aborted or CCIFSA must rise and show its might. Listening to SAUCCIF media briefing, CCIFSA was reduced to a mere name and its founding fathers. The battle for the soul of the cultural and creative industries starts here. May the grass not suffer when these two bull elephants fight.
Our keen interest is the operating models of the two Federations, CCIFSA members are Councils that represent various formations or organizations in the cultural and creative industries whereas SAUCCIF members are organised formations and associations. It may be interesting to get a view from both side to educate all of us before we judge or take sides.
In the meantime, remember that cultural and creative economy plays a role in preserving our arts, culture and heritage, that includes the history of areas, foster diversity in terms of culture, race, age and encourage social cohesion. The arts play an important role in society to help individuals and countries shape their identities and distinctiveness.
Where did CCIFSA go wrong to create a space for a new player like SAUCCIF? Can the two Federations co exist or one must be suffocated. Let us engage,” responds fellow creative Mandla Maseko.
“Good move. We should never outsource our responsibility and artistic and creative industry’s future to government. That was never ours (CIFSA). NO negotiations about it. It is a Government scheme for corruption. That CCIFSA belongs to the rubbish bin, a vehicle for corrupt opportunists, and they must be investigated by the Hawks since they have a new energy now to work.,” says Andile Siyo.
“The other one is a money making machine for the few, does not have a constituency and SAUCCIF is by the artists and for the artists,” concludes Mduduzi Mdlalose
This is the most dynamic moment currently happening within the creative economy in South Africa. Challenging the status quo through action. I’m4theArts is becoming very credible and the launch of this new federation shows great potential unlike CCIFSA!. Seriously? The new organisation is being established because of the incompetence of CCIFSA. They should not co-exist…CCIFSA should close as it is doing nothing anyway. I have tried numerous times to engage with them with no responses at all. They have received millions and have nothing to show for it except a conference that most did not even know about. Nope…they must stop” says artist Mariapaola D’Andrea
It is right now not clear whether the two will have to come to terms with co-existing. What is however clear is that the battle lines have been drawn between the two organizations as they have now realized that there are two bulls in the kraal, and often under such circumstances, an atmosphere of tension develops and is often not solved in a peaceful manner. Let us hope reason will prevail and the creative sector will not have to reach that stage as that will definitely decimate its capacity to do what it is supposed to do, and that is to create beautiful things-
well sometimes though provoking things that may make some people uncomfortable. After all, that is the dual duty of art in society.
CITYLIFE/ ARTS Apology; We would like to apologise to visual artist Mariapaola D’Andrea for using an incorrect picture of her. CityLife Arts has rectified the problem.