UN honours SA arts and culture researcher as one of world’s 'most influential people of African descent'
One of SA's biggest champions of the arts has been recognised by the UN for her positive contributions to humanity.
Unathi Lutshaba, executive director of the SA Cultural Observatory (Saco), based at Nelson Mandela University, was this week honoured at the UN headquarters in New York, as one of the world’s Most Influential People of African Descent (Mipad).
She was included in Mipad's global Top 100 Under 40 sector, in the “activism and humanitarian” category.
Over the past few years, Lutshaba has headed up a research team building evidence and influencing policy in the music, visual arts, film industry, for the good of creatives and the country’s economy.
“The creative world is no longer about art for art’s sake, but rather an undervalued and under-supported industry with untapped potential for generating economic growth and social unity,” said Lutshaba, speaking from the Mipad recognition event, which ran over five days and included leadership training, panel discussions and a chance for meaningful collaboration with fellow recipients from all over the world.
She said some of the biggest challenges facing SA’s creative industry were access to markets, and funding.
“One of the flagship reports of Saco has been the economic mapping of the cultural and creative industries (CCIs), on a national level,” said Lutshaba.
“Mapping studies aim to provide reliable, policy and sector relevant information about the economic value of the CCIs in SA, that can be used to inform sector development and policy.”
SA’s cultural and creative industry accounts for 6% of all jobs in the country. In 2020, it directly contributed R161bn, or 2.97%, of the country’s GDP.
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