#CreativeUprising Op – Ed: African Power Station

#CreativeUprising Op – Ed: African Power Station

Over the next few days in the lead-up to the ACT | UJ Creative Conference, we will be posting several op-eds from our ACT Team members as well as the conference presenters & performers. This will allow the delegates to interact with some of the key themes and ideas around this year’s #CreativeUprising. Today’s Op-Ed comes from ART AFRICA editor Ashraf Jamal. Catch his presentation at the ACT | UJ Creative Conference on Friday 28 July 2017.    In Condition Report, a collection of essays concerned with ‘building art institutions in Africa’, Koyo Kouoh – Director of 1:54, the largest annual exhibition of contemporary African art in the northern hemisphere – asks the following: ‘How is Africa after fifty years of Independence, really determining its artistic landscape?’ Kouoh’s approach turns on ‘platforms of criticality and production’ that ‘question hegemonic viewpoints, canons and narratives of art, and develop and manifest approaches of knowledge production outside state institutionalisation’, the better to permit ‘in-between zones, spaces in flux that connect theoretical, visual, practical and local knowledge’. Wary of the easy canonisation and essentialising of contemporary African art, Kouoh’s vision – nothing short of a manifesto – is designed to challenge the blithe absorption of African art within a global economy. Simon Njami, a contributor to Condition Report, shares this line of questioning.  ‘Can we grasp the needs of our times with contemporary tools’ Njami asks. ‘Can we move beyond the codification of a monolithic history of the world that is outrageously simplified? Can we change the analytic schemas whose purpose was to lock identities into geographic essentialisms?’ For Kouoh and Njami what...

The creative economy

The creative economy. Wait – creative economy? What’s a creative economy? In fact, what’s a creative? In a place like Braamfontein, the word “creative” is typically thrown around as freely as an empty coffee cup. Never with a mention or hint at whether it’s an adjective or noun. Muttered under a breath of matter-of-fact optimism by some; and with an underwhelmed sigh or roll of the eyes by others, the term is broadly weighed down by the fact that it can be very difficult to define and often means different things to different people. “I’m a creative. You’re a creative. Everybody’s a creative!” Popular now in discourse more than ever, the idea of a creative often brings to mind a number of exhausted tropes and tired clichés such as the “starving artist” or “gluten-free gallery dweller” – as its personifications. Which is mischievously facetious when it comes to what human creativity actually entails, requires, represents, produces or even has the potential to bring about in terms of socio-economic improvement .“If you look under your seat right now, you’ll find a creative!” According to the British Council, governments all over the world are beginning to recognise and re-imagine the socio-economic potential that the trade of human creativity brings. They refer to this on their blog as a creative economy. Still not sure what that means? According to the British Council’s Creative Cities website, a creative economy is defined as the “crossroads at which the arts, culture, business and technology industries [of a society] collide,” continuing, “what unifies these activities is the fact that they all trade with creative assets in...
ACT and Nedbank offer grants to innovative pitches

ACT and Nedbank offer grants to innovative pitches

The ACT | UJ Arts & Culture Conference, taking place from 8-10 March 2015, offers great opportunities for entrepreneurs working in creative industries. As an exciting addition to this year’s conference programme, creative entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to learn the art of the perfect pitch. Participants will then have a chance to put this theory to the test in a Live Pitch session, competing against fellow delegates for project funding totalling R100 000. “This year’s conference has a strong thematic focus on the creative entrepreneur, and we would like to help ‘creatives make it happen’ in practical ways as well,” says Arts & Culture Trust CEO Pieter Jacobs. The presentation offered during ‘Pitch Perfect’ session, presented by business guru Michael Rubenstein, will help the business-minded and inspired creative hone their idea-selling skills. Tying in with the conference’s overall purpose, the workshop will be utilised to present attendees with practical methods to maximise their own ideas, and how to put these into practice within their respective environments. Pieter Jacobs adds, “The practical application of theory is vitally important to the learning process, as personal experience often leads to a deeper understanding of a concept. ACT and Nedbank Arts Affinity are delighted to give conference delegates an opportunity to put their new pitching skills to the test.” Sponsored by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) and Nedbank Arts Affinity, three grants to the value of R10 000, R30 000 and R60 000, will be made available to the winning projects. Delegates registered to attend Cluster 4: ‘LEARN IT powered by Business and Arts South Africa’, or attending this cluster as part of...
Looking Ahead to 2015

Looking Ahead to 2015

In his concluding remarks at the end of the 2013 Conference, entitled ‘Creative Currencies: Accessing Opportunities in an Expanding Marketplace’ Cultural Activist Mike van Graan remarked: “We have sighed deeply as again we¹ve recognized that if only we could match visionary policy and public sector funding with the passion and expertise within the sector, we could achieve exponentially more. We have been shown how it is not only possible, but indeed necessary to get on with our creative lives and endeavours, despite poor policy implementation and despite the absence or arbitrary nature of public funding.” Using these insights as a point of departure, the 2015 ACT | UJ Arts & Culture Conference aims to explore methods of engagement and practice, and opportunities that exist for those in the creative industries, in an age where entrepreneurial thinking can be a significant building block of success. Considering the connotations and relevance of words like ‘artist’ and ‘entrepreneur’, a content advisory committee comprising significant roleplayers in the South African context will be threading these ideas together into an invigorating programme. Headed by Levinia Jones, who has extensive experience in programming large-scale events such as festivals and conferences, the Content Advisory team comprises industry stalwarts and ACT Board Members Caroline Smart, Themi Venturas and Trish Downing, who will be joined by Grace Meadows (University of Johannesburg: UJ Arts & Culture), Malemo Moiloa (Visual Arts Network of South Africa), and Lonwabo Mavuso (Business and Arts South Africa). Based at the University of Johannesburg, the Conference will again be grounded in the discursive rigour that has come to be a hallmark of this event, while...