Steenkamp stands up to Arts industry critics … as Arts Summit of Southern Africa begins

As Windhoek opens its doors to the convening of the Arts Summit of Southern Africa set to conclude by end of this week, education permeant secretary, Sanet Steenkamp stood up to perceptions that the creative industry is not a serious one.

She said while the arts still have all the potential to grow, there is a great need for new approaches to be taken, innovation and creative thinking to breathe life into the sector.

Steenkamp acknowledged that indeed, the arts are riddled with hefty challenges ranging from funding scarcity, lack of skill, poor distribution systems and copyright infringement which is bleeding the sector financially.

Yet  she said, “The Creative industry has the potential to grow and develop into a viable and valuable market which can provide socio-economic benefits to the continent.”

Perceptions that the arts are not sustainable are misplaced, said Steenkamp while these arguments, “are flawed, ignoring the very real positive effects the creative industry can have on the socio-economic standing of African countries”.

“Potential for wealth and job creation can be found via the generation and exploitation of Intellectual Property (IP). The acquisition and attainment of IP consolidate ownership of an idea as a resource which can be maximised to the benefit of individuals, organisations, and communities.”

“There are also connected industries which prosper when the creative sector thrives. These include tourism, trade, education, heritage and culture, communication and sports. Therefore, the involvement of the creative industries in key national and regional development strategies is vital to enhance the sustainable development and empowerment opportunities for citizens who are traditionally socio-economically marginalised,” she said.

She said the fact that Namibia has chosen to host this high profile event shows that there is a commitment to embracing the arts sector which incorporates development alongside promotion.

Meanwhile, the summit has 236 delegates registered while 52 of these are coming from the region, Europe and Australia.

The summit will among other things discuss the promotion and inclusion of the sector in key regional and national development strategies and will help develop an environment that nurtures creative professionals, bring them together and encourage international cooperation.