Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) and the University of Johannesburg College of Business and Economics to launch the Arts & Culture Research Unit (ACRU) at the ‘Not Your Average Symposium’ at the Swiss Hotel School in Gauteng

The Arts & Culture Creative Research Unit (ACRU) is a new research and development partnership between the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) and the University of Johannesburg’s College of Business Economics. It aims to promote arts and culture research by positioning it centrally within economic growth and socio-economic development, exploring multi-disciplinary approaches to building and researching the cultural and creative economy.

The ACRU serves as a platform to bridge the relationship between SA universities, institutions and businesses involved in the arts and culture sector while clearly defining and supporting meaningful collaborative and trading platforms that can practically expand opportunities.  In this arena,  the key focus of the ACRU is to accelerate research that translates to practical implementation and potential commercialisation opportunities. ACRU will explore multidisciplinary approaches and opportunities for arts and culture within the creative economy, especially in its relationship with the tourism and hospitality sector, which has its own artistic and cultural offerings.

South Africa is a land rich in art and culture, yet there is still uncertainty over the value of arts and culture within the economic, social and institutional contexts. The value of art and creativity is determined by culture inherent within institutional frameworks, which has a direct relationship between ‘innovation’, ‘creativity’ and the information that defines this.

“We believe the ACRU will positively develop the much-needed arts economy and facilitate skills development that supports research into how culture translates into an arts economy. By building knowledge about the arts and culture sector through research outcomes, the ACRU will identify best practice models to better facilitate the sector’s economic position as well as create access to opportunities and platforms for capacity building. The ACRU aims to create access to market and to initiate creative innovations within the art and culture space.” says Jessica Denyschen, Interim CEO, ACT who added that the concretising and advocating of the significance of arts and culture in the value chain of the wider socio-economic development in South Africa is critical in the successful development of these sectors.  

Prof Peter Baur, Associate Professor of UJ’s College of Business and Economics says “The arts and cultural sector of South Africa is rich and vibrant, flourishing with talent and vigour. Cultural entrepreneurship contributes greatly to the South African economy by providing multiple levels of creativity and innovation to an economy which is so desperate for opportunities to grow and flourish. What is a nation without its art and cultural roots? The role of art and culture in a global economy is resolute, and the arts play a vital role in facilitating economic development by creating a platform from which economic sustainability into the future of this nation is undeniably vital.”  

To mark the launch of ACRU, the Arts & Culture Trust and University of Johannesburg’s College of Business and Economics are hosting a half day symposium at the Swiss Hotel School of South Africa in Ferndale, Randburg on Friday, 14 October 2022 from 08h00 for 08h30 until 14h00. The Swiss Hotel School (SHS) will prepare a gourmet lunch for the symposium attendees and the day will be vitalised with live entertainment, a fashion show, visual arts exhibition, collaboration with local brands and a complimentary beer-tasting experience by Tolokazi. Tickets cost R450 pp and are available at

The format of the conference features an opening and closing plenary, followed by thematic panel discussions by industry heavyweights from the Arts & Culture industry, Tourism, Hospitality, Universities. Guest speakers will address topics such as the role of culture, creativity, art, and tourism and the need to  support innovations within the creative economy at a time when South Africa needs practical solutions to deal with the challenges in expanding socio-economic and developmental opportunities in the art and culture space in South Africa.

The conference seeks to adopt a hands-on/practical approach to striving towards practical outcomes while the promotion of arts, culture, and heritage will be at the heart of the occasion.

The collaborative partnership with the Swiss Hotel School brings together cultural exchange and integration of the tourism and hospitality industries as a socio-economic development driver. What also ties the collaboration well between all partners is how each organisation strongly advocates for the mentorship of young or emerging industry practitioners. As an example, the conference will involve master’s students presenting while the Swiss Hotel School will integrate their culinary students in activities of the day.

“The hospitality industry is indelibly connected to Arts and Culture. After all, food is an art form in itself. Art, music, dance and theatre need great venues, service and experienced hospitality professionals to enhance the experience of an audience. Let’s face it, when we work together we create something thrilling; a multi-sensory experience.” says Stephen Hickmore, Director of The Swiss Hotel School South Africa.

Innovative collaboration is key to the successful growth and development of South Africa’s creative future. If you are involved in the arts and culture or tourism sectors, and keen to participate in a day of shared knowledge and cultural exchange with fellow South Africans, while celebrating the launch of the ACRU, then lend your support by making your conference booking at Quicket. To keep in touch with the Arts & Culture Trust please visit the ACT website, follow ACT on Twitter or like the ACT Facebook page

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