I would have liked to have a debate in this piece about some or other sensational topic, such as the latest shenanigans involving the Gupta’s–or about President Jacob Zuma’s conversations with the ANC’s National Executive Committee regarding stepping down. But this is not a sensational publication, nor is it a political platform, so I’m afraid, it is business as usual...
The original text that brought about my thoughts below, were scribbled on an odd piece of paper in the dark, while sitting in the front row of the annual RMB Starlight Classics concert at the phenomenal Vergelegen Wine estate. Accompanied by my dad’s sister, Gail Droy (who was visiting from Canada), the evening turned out perfectly–soaking up a good dose of culture under the stars, whilst being spoilt rotten by my gracious FNB Corporate Communications hosts, Patty Seetharam and Virginia Magapatona.
As the AfroSymphonic scene unfolded in front of me, and the main acts graced the stage, it was like paging through a few BBQ back copies. We have featured them all in BBQ at some point or another: Pretty Yende, Hugh Masekela and Greg Vuyani Maqoma, to mention but a few. So you might wonder how I connect this with the economy and what it thas to do with doing business. Listening to the conductor, Richard Cock, who repeatedly referred to “South Africa’s booming creative economy”, and its contribution to business, the answer is ‘absolutely everything’. Because absolutely everything in our lives is about doing business. Business is everything, and business is everywhere–in fact, everything in our lives revolve around business, without us even realising it.
Prior to Cock’s mentions of the creative economy, I’ve never really given the creative economy much thought in the business sense of the word. Going about our daily lives, most of us most probably think about business in terms of the corporate world, deals being made, the stock exchange, retail, and trade and investment. Yet our creative economy has contributed R90.5 billion (2.9%) directly to the country’s GDP over the past financial year. And a total number of 562 726 jobs were created during the same period. That is a 3.6% contribution to the country’s total employment figures.
Looking at the biggest money spinners, during the previous financial year, the 10-day long National Arts Festival in Grahamstown contributed R138.4 million to the local economy, and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (a two-day event) contributed a whopping R129.2 million.
Given the current state of our economy, one might wonder how a sector that predominantly ‘services’ the leisure side of life is being supported so well by the South African population and comparatively liberally contribute to our GDP. Could it be that the industry has had much success when it comes to transformation and adapting to the changing needs of its democratic population?
Reflecting back to my night out with the aunt, while at the same time looking forward to the upcoming Cape Town Jazz Festival, I will never be able to look at the entertainment industry with the same eyes again. Going forward, a good time out will be measured in terms of business as usual–in support of the industry’s amazing efforts to transform. Front row seats or not...