Mike van Graan is the President of the African Cultural Policy Network and an award-winning playwright with 33 plays under his belt. He is currently an artist-in-residence at the University of Pretoria where he was conferred with an honorary doctorate in 2018 in recognition of his cultural activism and creative work.
Tensions and conflicts rooted in inequalities are textured by differences in value and belief systems, traditions, communal and individual identities, in short, by culture. Difficult to quantify and evaluate, culture is ignored in favour of ticking boxes that are defined and measurable. And yet, culture as a transversal phenomenon impacts on development, on the understanding and practice of human rights, on governance, on economic activities, on social and human advancement. Cultural policy is mostly limited to the arts and heritage.
How does culture impact on social progress? What is the cultural dimension of development? Or what is the developmental dimension of culture? Can the Sustainable Development Goals really be achieved, and if so, can they be sustainable without addressing the cultural dimension of these?