South Africa has been at work since 1994 with the pressing tasks of reshaping itself. Two decades later, it continues to faces challenges inherited from the past. Nevertheless, the end of minority rule and the advent of democracy enabled the systematic legal eradication of race-based segregation and discrimination by replacing this with an inclusive, non-racial democratic dispensation based on equality.

This consequently called for the legislative and institutional transformation of the arts, culture and heritage dispensation of the past. The means for achieving this was the 1996 White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage. Grounded in the Constitution, it affirmed the right of everyone to enjoy, participate in and have access to artistic, cultural, heritage and linguistic resources, facilities, training programmes and related opportunities.

Significant progress has subsequently been made in building a new and inclusive society to which the arts, culture and heritage have contributed. The task now is to accelerate, expand and deepen the gains made over the last two decades and to address the new challenges thrown up by an ever-changing world and society.

It is for these reasons that a fundamental policy revision of the sector, based on experiences since the advent of majority rule, is now required.

The impact and success of this revised White Paper are therefore to be measured by the extent to which the sector contributes to the effective implementation of institutional governance and management, as well as to the effective delivery of arts, culture and heritage services to all the people of South Africa within a coherent framework of national development.

Because the arts, culture and heritage are fundamental to human society, they possess the creative and innovative means of self-actualisation and social transformation based on the social practices, values, traditions and histories of cultural communities.

Given that every society is a social, political, economic and cultural construct that maintains and renews itself by drawing on its creative and innovative store of cultural and heritage resources, the remaking of South Africa into a just and inclusive society cannot be accomplished without drawing on the creative, cultural and heritage resources of all our people.

This revised White Paper therefore charts the current and emerging challenges facing South African society as it moves forward in its resolution to tackle persistent historical inequalities. Harnessing the arts, culture and heritage for creative expression, education and training, job creation and the eradication of poverty through close cooperation with all the tiers of government and related departments, as well as the international community, is an essential aspect of this transformational process.

Moving into the future, we are resolved to ensure that the arts, culture and heritage contribute to change and the creation of a better life for all.

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