Allegations of corruption, political interference and a lack of transparency as well as death threats, walk-outs and boycotts formed the dramatic and sometimes chaotic backdrop to what should have been an historic consultative and elective conference for the newly-established Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA) in Bloemfontein this week.

Someone (it might have been Britain’s famous left-wing playwright David Hare) once said that there are four ways to make sense of the world politics, religion, sport and the arts – and the first three are unreliable. The observation is true, of course, only in societies where artists are able to function independently, free from political interference, coercion or patronage and where creators are enabled to serve as mirrors and the conscience of the citizenry.

Artists have always navigated precarious, dangerous spaces and there are many who have found themselves in the gutters of history, co-opted – often out of financial necessity, sometimes through blind ideological allegiance, out of fear, and occasionally driven by ego – by wily politicians who understand the power of culture and the arts in shaping the hearts and minds of a nation.

It was Joseph Stalin who in 1932 told …

Source : Daily Maverick