Day 2 Keynote

Bread or Circuses? Cultural Policy and the Cultural and Creative Industries in Developing Countries: A case study of South Africa.

The rise of the “Cultural and Creative Industries” (CCIs) has sparked world-wide debate about the definition of the CCIs, their role in economic growth and development, how they should be valued and what role cultural policy should play. On the one hand, national ministries of Arts and Culture have welcomed the change in focus from the “subsidised arts”, and the definition of their role as the “department of fun” (circuses), towards a more serious, industrial agenda related to job creation and economic growth (bread).  On the other hand, arts practitioners have been alarmed by what they see as a de-emphasis of the intrinsic value of arts, culture and heritage, and an over-emphasis much more commercial applications with more economic, but, arguably, less cultural value.

In South Africa, this tension between the CCIs as growth drivers versus contributors to wider societal development goals has been apparent in the recent debates around the revised White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage. The first version, in 1996, focused almost exclusively on the non-market values of culture, and on redressing the neglect of African culture that occurred under the apartheid government. However, the next version of the White Paper has been heavily contested, and is now in its fourth draft iteration. Using these policy debates as a background, this paper draws on recent research on the CCIs in SA to illustrate the likely trade-offs between the “bread” and “circuses” approaches.

 Jen Snowball is a professor of Economics at Rhodes University, South Africa and a researcher at the South African                                    Cultural Observatory. Her research interests are focused mainly in the field of cultural economics (or the economics of arts and culture). She is a member of the Association of Cultural Economics International, and publishes in both South African and international academic journals. Her research in cultural economics has focused on the use of market and non-market valuation methods, especially as they apply to cultural festivals. Her recent work for the Cultural Observatory has been on cultural mapping studies, employment in the cultural and creative industries and developing a framework for the monitoring and evaluation of publically funded arts, culture and heritage.


A reply to Jen’s keynote will be provided by Prof Lluis Bonet, from the University of Barcelona.