Arts, Culture and Heritage

The City of Johannesburg’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Directorate (ACH) is situated in what was originally the traffic and licensing department premises, built in 1934. From this building, the City now manages programmes concerned with cultural life, creative industries, heritage, public art, public spaces as well as museums, galleries and arts and culture centers.

"Arts, culture and heritage are fundamental to human development and are also unique to the identity of the City. They have shaped the development of Johannesburg as we know it today." Steven Sack, Director of Arts, Culture and Heritage, 2005

Some of the central initiatives of ACH include the development of major public festivals. Examples of these are the annual Africa Day celebrations and the Arts Alive International Festival, which showcases artistic talent through activities in Newtown and surrounds. The annual New Year's Carnival, first held in 2004, involves a colourful parade of floats through the streets of Johannesburg. The City also hosts the Soweto Arts Festival at the Mofolo Cultural Bowl, a community arts programme at Uncle Tom's Hall in Orlando West and Jazz on the Lake at Zoo Lake.

The City administers a variety of museums, including the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto and the flagship Johannesburg Art Gallery near Joubert Park, its mobile museums which take displays into outlying areas.

ACH is also the custodian of the Public Art Policy which guides the development of public art across sites in Johannesburg. As part of this programme, a variety of artworks have been introduced along the Cultural Arc linking Newtown and Braamfontein.

Did You Know?

Did you know that Johannesburg has been rebuilt four times in the span of one century? First, it was a tented camp, then a town of tin shanties, then of four-storey Edwardian brick buildings and finally, a city of modern skyscrapers.