Pretoria - Minister Paul Mashatile says the arts and culture sector must be recognised for the significant role it plays as one of the key drivers of economic growth and job creation in the country.
"As we move into the future, we must draw inspiration that our sector is now no longer seen as a 'nice to have add-on'. It is one of the key drivers of economic growth and job creation," said the Arts and Culture Minister.
Minister Mashatile was speaking before signing the performance agreements, commonly known as the shareholders compact, for the 2014/15 financial year, with the leadership of entities that operate under his department.
"By signing these compacts, we are recommitting ourselves to doing even more to ensure that the arts, culture and heritage sector contributes towards promoting social cohesion, nation building, national healing and the economic emancipation of the people of South Africa.
"We have taken steps and are making progress in aligning the priorities of our institutions to those of the department and government in general," he said.
The minister said he introduced the signing of the compact in 2012, to ensure that all the entities under his department work in the same direction, not only with his department, but with the overall objectives of government.
"We have strengthened the monitoring and evaluation of our institutions. The department continues to work well with Business Arts South Africa in mobilising private sector buy-in and support for our programmes," he said.
He told the CEOs and the chairpersons of the Boards and Councils that the shareholders' compacts must guide them to do even more to ensure that the sector continues to take its rightful place in the ongoing process of socio-economic transformation.
As proposed in the Draft White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage, Minister Mashatile said they must begin to think seriously about consolidating their institutions, boards and councils.
"This we must do in order to maximise the impact of our work, limit duplications, save costs and improve funding for our sector," he said.
On Thursday, Minister Mashatile announced that work had begun on composing a national song to form part of the country's Freedom Day celebrations on 27 April.
Asked about the artists who are working on composing the song, which is expected to capture the spirit of the country's 20 Years of Freedom celebrations, Mashatile said: "There is a group led by Sello Chicco Twala and another one led by Oskido working on composing the national freedom song. We are targeting all age groups of our society... By April 27, there will be an official Freedom Song that all South Africans can enjoy."
Chairperson of the South African Heritage Resources Agency Council, Dr Somadoda Fikeni, said: "To us, what is key in signing the shareholders' compact is ... that the department holds us accountable, and to assess if the broad strategy of arts and culture is expressed in the work, programmes and strategies of these entities."