The state and community arts centres in a society in transformation: the South African case
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The history of community arts centres in South Africa illustrates the complex relationship between the state and community culture in
a society in transformation. Community arts centres that were established by civil society since the 1960s contributed significantly to social and political empowerment against the apartheid state. New state-funded centres have underperformed since 1996 due to historical disjunctions, ideological shifts, fragmented policies, institutional weaknesses and inadequate capacity in both government and the arts sector. Optimization of the arts centres requires a policy-driven approach by a facilitative government, in partnership with civil society, focusing on policy implementation rather than policy-making, and on realistic programmatic output by capacitated local organizations rather than infrastructure.