Nkululeko Khumalo shines at the FNB Art Joburg panel on copyrights

By: Qhawekazi Memani – 21 September 2023

Ms. Nkululeko Khumalo, a lecturer at Vaal University of Technology (VUT) and Independent Art Curator, played a pivotal role in the recent FNB Art Joburg Panel Discussion on Copyrights and Intellectual Property event which was held at the Sandton Convention Centre. Her participation was marked by a panel discussion.

FNB Art Joburg, renowned for its 16-year-long annual FNB Art Joburg exhibition, was the host of this event, with Javett Art Centre UP overseeing the coordination. The focus was on addressing the notable absence of representation for copyright and intellectual property within the visual arts sector.

According to Ms Khumalo, while various performance arts have seen progress in this domain, the visual arts community still grapples with this issue. She expressed concern over recent government attempts to pass a bill that could potentially reduce protections for visual artists, which led to a strike last month as artists rallied against the bill’s potential impact on their rights. She emphasized, “The bill, if passed, could have detrimental effects on the arts industry, especially given the prevalence of art theft and duplication by entities like the Chinese market. The visual arts sector has long felt neglected and exploited by the government, and the situation is worsening.”

The panel discussion aimed to shed light on crucial issues surrounding how visual artists can safeguard their creations, under the specific theme of “Copyright and Intellectual Property in Visual Arts,” addressing the lack of representation and the exploitation artists face.

Ms Khumalo noted that the event drew a diverse audience, including students and staff from VUT, Bantu Hub from VUT Residency, Wits University, University of Pretoria, and Javett Art Centre. Additionally, alumni students who were aware of her participation turned out in significant numbers. The event also attracted gallery owners, curators, fair visitors, the Director of the City of Joburg, Springs Gallery Head Curator, the esteemed artist Mom Bongi Ndlomo, and other notable figures. In addition, the discussion was livestreamed on various social media platforms.

Reflecting on the panel discussion, Ms Khumalo noted that, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. “Attendees left with invaluable insights into copyright and intellectual property regulations for creatives in South Africa. Notably, the discussion shed light on the practical challenges that visual artists face regarding copyright, offering a newfound awareness of how the digital space influences our work. It reinforced the enduring significance of artists’ copyright and intellectual property, even long after they have passed, “she said.

Furthermore, the contributions of panelists such as her, Lazarus Serobe, and Chabani Cyril Manganye were highly commendable. Their preparedness, clarity, and articulate insights were notable. Moderator Elroy Fillis-Bell skillfully guided the discussion, ensuring each panelist had the opportunity to share their perspective and addressing questions with precision.

In closing, Ms Khumalo shared that some attendees expressed a desire for a more comprehensive exploration of the Fair Use policy, recognising its current relevance in Copyright Law.  Additionally, a comment made during the closing remarks sparked further interest and could have benefited from extended discussion rather than serving as a concluding statement. The event left a significant impact, fostering a deeper understanding of the complexities and challenges within the realm of copyright and intellectual property in the visual arts sector.

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