Nicholas Motsatse about the World Arts Summit in Johannesburg

May 2007 -

The eyes of the culture world are on South Africa as the country prepares to host the fourth World Summit on Arts and Culture in 2009. Johannesburg has won the bid to host one of the most significant events in the international arts calendar. The Summit, which will be held on 21-25 September 2009, will focus on the role of public arts policies in meeting the wider challenges facing the world - economic, social and cultural. South Africa is a world-leading example of achieving intercultural dialogue through the arts and IFACCA (International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies) has chosen it as a stage to explore the issue in depth. Mike van Graan speaks with Nicholas Motsatse, chairperson of the National Arts Council in South Africa:

"The summit takes place in a different part of the world each year. Countries go through a bidding process and the winning country gets chosen by a panel of practitioners from around the world. Given South Africa’s track record in hosting high profile world events and its prominence on the world stage, it seemed opportune for the summit to be held in Africa. The National Arts Council (NAC) is a founding member of the formation of IFACCA, host of the summit. The NAC together with its partners, the Department of Arts and Culture and the City of Johannesburg prepared a compelling bid. The first summit was held in Canada, the second in Singapore and the last one was in the United Kingdom. So this is the first time it is hosted in a developing country.

South Africa is a diverse country in terms of cultures, languages, religion, and this diversity is reflected in its cultural policies and practices. In the context of UNESCO' s Convention on Cultural Diversity, the principles of cooperation, empowerment of the marginalized and the freedom with which people talk and express their diversity can be important for the world grappling with such issues.

The inherent benefit of any conference hosted anywhere in the world is that it tends to focus on the needs and issues that the host country and continent is grappling with. While Africa’s presence in the last conference in the UK was very minimal, this summit will ensure that Africa is seen as a role player in shaping the policies and practices of culture in the world..

The speakers are usually of a very high calibre and South African policy makers will have the opportunity to learn form the best. As with all summits, the host country attracts world attention and this 'nudges' policy makers in the direction of international best practice. For example, after hosting the World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa took a lead among the developing world on green and brown issues."