29/12/2017 14:10 SAST | Updated 29/12/2017 14:10 SAST

Can New National Art Bank Revolutionise SA's Art Industry?

It's still in its early stages, but the project could change the game completely.

Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein is the home of South Africa's new National Art Bank
Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein is the home of South Africa's new National Art Bank

The department of arts and culture has officially launched the brand-new National Art Bank (NAB), a new model for art funding and acquisition that could completely change the way artists and museums access and create funding.

The NAB will create a store of artworks by purchasing them from galleries and private artists. Then this 'bank' of artwork will be leased to corporate and private individuals.

This creates a way for the NAB to ultimately become self-funded –– and also allows those renting to keep their environments full of fresh artwork that might normally be beyond the means of their own acquisition budgets.

"We believe that National Art Bank programme will further promote, support and supplement the income of contemporary South African artists, by creating a market for their work and moving them from a second economy to a first economy," arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa said at the launch.

Department of Arts and Culture
Minister Mthethwa launching the National Art Bank at Oliewenhuis Art Museum

He added, "This will also provide the opportunity for South African artists to receive exposure locally as well as internationally."

The new collection will, for the moment, be held at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein, where a display of the collection's first acquisitions is currently on display. It features 54 artworks from eight provinces by 32 different artists.

"It's a major milestone, not only for us here in South Africa, but for the whole continent –– because what we do here impacts on the continent. It represents what we stand for, and that artists, both the upcoming and experienced, should in a way find expression here," Mthethwa said.