Futures & Beyond Key Research Findings 2021

There is no doubt that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is a buzzword, with most industries considering how this revolution will affect operations and ultimately the sustainability of economies. 4IR is an interrupter and a catalyst of new industries and new ways of thinking, forcing us to reconsider how we have done things in the past.

The creative economy and indeed the creative industries are well placed to be enablers of 4IR. They help to ease the adoption of new technologies and provide practical ways in which these technologies could be applied and understood. Futures & Beyond Key research findings report seeks to initiate robust discussion and curious exploration of 4IR within the context of the creative sector. Though there is a general awareness, that 4IR is likely to change everything in the future, UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA), in partnership with Andani.Africa recognised the limited engagement with how the 4IR and creative sector intersect, particularly in South Africa and the African continent.

With this in mind, UJ Arts & Culture and Andani.Africa, a creative industries research and insights company, have embarked upon a process of knowledge production on this topic. To this end, they hosted the inaugural Futures & Beyond Forum which aimed to start a conversation on the creative industries’ role in the continent’s future and develop Africa-led strategies for creativity and innovation in technology, and presented speakers from across the continent to engage on various topics that interrogate where creativity meets 4IR. This report is an extension of the Forum and a speculative merging of Forum insights, formal research reports and various case studies from around the continent. It is an exploratory introduction into the current local and international debates on the intersection between 4IR and the creative sector. It aims to identify areas of potential, gaps in the literature, and strategies for knowledge production on these issues

The concept of the 4IR is elusive, with many experts trying to measure and pinpoint the extent to which it will impact economies and countries around the world. The truth is, 4IR is still a developing field of understanding, with shifting definitions and growing knowledge. As it develops, some elements become clearer and new strategies are tested and better understood. Clearly, 4IR is constantly in flux and requires agile, responsive and creative engagements. The changes of 4IR present a window of opportunities for the African continent. They may allow the continent to leapfrog some of its development challenges. They allow the reimagining of technology as a real viable solution that could mitigate challenges such as ease of doing business, infrastructure development, unemployment and poverty alleviation. There are some indications that Africa is making some in roads in digital adoption.

The creative economy and indeed the creative industries are well placed to be enablers of 4IR. They help to ease the adoption of new technologies and provide practical ways in which these technologies could be applied and understood. In many respects, creative industries have pioneered the use of new technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D printing.  Creatives are agile and digital adopter – 49% of juniors employed within creative industries entities say they taught themselves their foundational digital skills. 53% thought that 4IR skills would be the most beneficial for advancing their careers. But almost as many indicated that they don’t yet feel equipped to work with any of the emerging technologies.  Creative industries have also proven to have quite low barriers of entry. There is much work still to be done in this area, and much potential still to be uncovered. This report is in many senses an introductory document, which begins to articulate how the creative industries in Africa intersects with 4IR.

UJ Arts & Culture & Andani.Africa will present a fully accredited academic conference in 2022 to further the conversation on creativity and 4IR.

Watch the Key Research Findings presentation here

Click here to download the full research report

For more information contact lakinmb@uj.ac.za or molemo@andani.africa

About UJ Arts and Culture

UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA), produces and presents world-class student and professional arts programmes aligned to the UJ vision of an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. A robust range of arts platforms are offered on all four UJ campuses for students, staff, alumni and the general public to experience and engage with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists drawn from the full spectrum of the arts.

In addition to UJ Arts & Culture, FADA (www.uj.ac.za/fada) offers programmes in eight creative disciplines, in Art, Design and Architecture, as well as playing home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art & Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre. The Faculty has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance, and engages actively with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approaches to art and design education.

About Andani.Africa 

Andani.Africa is a research, insights, and strategic advisory company specialising in the creative and cultural industries. It was formed in 2016 out of a need to strengthen research approaches that address knowledge-gaps in the understanding of Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) in Africa. We do this by creating and co-creating valuable insights through research, strategic advisory and content engagement. Andani.Africa’s purpose is premised on the belief that in order to grow CCIs in Africa, sophisticated data collection and analysis need to be developed to navigate the complexities and intricacies that underpin the CCIs in Africa. Andani.Africa works within the intersection of tradition and culture that we like to call Data Humanism: African forms of storytelling that share insights and knowledge in the tradition of the oral histories of our forebears, and the technological advances afforded us by new digital forms of data analysis and visualisation, harnessing AI for African creative industries knowledge production.