SA, Flanders sign R30m arts deal

3 November 2002

The government of Flanders has signed an agreement with South Africa involving an investment of R25-million in five new arts and culture projects over the period 2003 to 2005, with South Africa’s department of arts and culture bringing an additional R5-million to the projects.

South Africa and Flanders share a strong relationship in arts an culture, dating back to an agreement signed in 1996 that has paved the way for exchanges in heritage, performing arts, twinning of festivals and the exchange of cultural experts in several fields.

During a visit to the country last week, Flemish Culture Minister Paul van Grembergen announced five innovative collaborative projects between his country and South Africa:

Community Arts Centre Project
The department of arts and culture views community arts centres as nodal points in communities to make arts and culture accessible to all South Africans, and aims to develop a sustainable network of community arts centres throughout the country.

The Flemish government is investing finance and expertise to help build capacity and develop policy in identified centres in three provinces. These are being developed as functioning models to be implemented in other provinces.

Arts Education and Training Project
The Arts Education and Training Project, a partnership between the department of arts and culture and the Curriculum Development Project of the Wits School of the Arts, aims to develop curriculum materials and models for arts education and training in both the formal and informal sectors.

The project aims to establish a strong framework for arts and cultural teaching in South African schools by piloting strategic projects in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Limpopo.

Policy Project
This project aims to develop an instrument to help formulate local culture policy in South Africa, stimulating social responsibility, active citizenship and the development of a coherent and methodical approach to local culture policy.

Craft Projects
Two projects in Kwazulu-Natal are being funded: the Lubombo Craft Project and Khumbulani Craft Project. Both projects focus on training rural artisans in basic management skills, product development, marketing and sales strategies.

Cultural Management Project
This project focuses on equipping and training civil servants involved in arts and culture. Flemish and South African government officials, as well as personnel of statutory bodies and associated institutions, will exchange expertise and best practice in arts and culture administration.

Speaking during the signing ceremony in Pretoria last week, Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Minister Ben Ngubane said his department was focusing increasingly on strategic projects with partner countries that would leave lasting legacies in arts and culture and have a direct impact on practitioners in the field.

“Whereas our department was previously often the recipient of donor aid, we are shifting the focus of bilateral relations to one based on shared ownership, mutuality and common interest’, Ngubane said. reporter