Minister Anroux Marais' speech at South Africa Museum Association Conference
WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND SPORT, ANROUX MARAIS
SPEECH AT SOUTH AFRIC MUSEUM ASSOCIATION (SAMA) CONFERENCE AT THE SANLAM HEAD OFFICE IN BELLVILLE
24 October 2017
The President of SAMA, Mr Victor Netshiavha and Council Members
The Chairperson of SAMA Western Cape, Commander Leon Steyn
The Consul General of the Netherlands Ms Bonnie Horbach
Our Keynote speaker Prof. Ciraj Rassool, who has only yesterday arrived from an international trip – thank your very much for your time, we are honoured to have you.
Representatives from our partners SANLAM
Delegates, Ladies and Gentleman
Good morning, goeiemôre, molweni nonke
It is indeed a pleasure to welcome you to our beautiful and heritage rich province of the Western Cape. It is our sincere honour to be the hosts of the 2017 Annual South African Museums Association Conference.
Our Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport provides managerial, financial and professional support to 30 affiliated museums making the Western Cape Museums Service among the largest of its kind in the country. The sheer number of museums in our province is a solid testament to our unique and extremely rich heritage landscape.
It is argued that for economic growth to be sustainable at a high enough rate for it to achieve permanent inclusive growth, the growth must be smart. This refers to growth fuelled by innovation focused on improving the performance and quality of education outcomes, strengthening research and promoting innovation and knowledge transfer in a digital society. In the Western Cape, therefore, we have placed a high focus on education and our museums core partners in achieving our goals. We believe that Museums are critical places for the cultivation of imagination and innovation, key ingredients for the society we aspire to have. I would like to encourage museums and museum professionals to develop education programmes that seek to contribute to the improvement of the quality of our education as this will have a positive impact on our productivity as a nation. This is especially important for an economy faced with multiple social challenges and one that is critically dependant on remaining economically competitive in a global world. I also wish to take this opportunity to wish the class of 2017 all the best in their final year examinations which began yesterday. We have every faith that they will give of their best as this will have a direct impact on their opportunities into the future.
Programme Director, I firmly believe that there is no better place in South Africa for thought leaders in the museum profession and heritage specialists to gather, considering that the Western Cape is home to more than 120 museums, making it one of the largest network of museums in the country. This further equates to over 10% of all the museums in the whole of Africa.
As an avid museum-goer myself, I have found that museums are uniquely positioned to bring people together, to build national pride, to bring restoration and healing and tells a story of not only our past but allows us to frankly consider our future. This year’s conference topic: “Contested Histories: Saying the Unspeakable in Museums” is indeed relevant and should challenge and inspire us to think outside of the box. The importance of this topic becomes even more relevant when we understand that museums are to be vehicles for positive change, platforms for public engagement and the driving force behind values such as social inclusion within our province.
We will soon have an opportunity to put this theme in practice in the development of the new Cape Town Museum. In 2015 the Western Cape Government took a decision to build the Cape Town Museum and this has been officially gazetted.
We are currently finalizing the location of this museum within a key cultural precinct in the City of Cape Town and an official announcement will be made as soon as this has been confirmed. This will be followed by a thorough community consultation process to ensure that all people of Cape Town as well as the Western Cape are fully represented in this Museum. Over the past year I have travelled extensively to various parts of our province with our Oral History Programme. These sessions have demonstrated that there are many local stories that have shaped our city and nation which cannot be adequately covered in our National Museums located in our City – these stories will find a home in the Cape Town Museum.
We are excited by the recent official opening of the Zeitz MOCCA on the Waterfront and the potential that it has to reinvigorate an interest in Museums, and Contemporary African Art in particular. It has without a doubt set the bar very high for the Cape Town Museum and we are up to the challenge! We will ensure that the Cape Town Museum leads the charge as one of those places in our city that are considered inspirational in a way that allows for critical debate and deeper appreciation of Arts, Culture and Heritage and the context of their creation.
We trust that you will enjoy your visit to our beautiful province and that you will take some time to enjoy our world class cuisine, unique blend of culture, our breath taking scenery and truly submerse yourself into this unique space we call home. Much like Richard Fortey, “I believe profoundly in the importance of museums; I would go as far as to say that you can judge a society by the quality of its museums”.
I thank you