Arts administration assistant professor co-authors study of South African creative industries

Using his U.S.-based creative industry research as a model, Assistant Professor David McGraw partnered with Ronel Jordaan of the University of Cape Town to examine the training, workplace practices, and long-term career expectations of technical staff working in the South African Creative Industries.

Assistant Professor David McGraw, program coordinator of the Arts Administration interdisciplinary major, has co-authored the South African Creative Industries Technical Staff Study with Ronel Jordaan of the University of Cape Town.  The SACITS Study surveyed 166 South African arts professionals working in the Creative Industries, primarily in the ‘live arts’ fields of dance, music, and theatre.

SACITS is the first major study to examine this workforce in terms of education, training and employment practices (job searches, salary negotiations, number of venues/employers for independent contractors, and weekly vs. annual income levels for the creative industries), as well as job satisfaction and work/life balance.  The goal of this ongoing study is to provide data for a field that does not have representation in national discussions about employment and workplace practices.

42% of participants were satisfied with their careers and 21% were very satisfied.
The SACITS Study measured career satisfaction, work/life balance,and likelihood of leaving the field in the near future.

The data in this first round of the SACITS Study was collected prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, so it will also serve as a baseline in future studies of how the Creative Industries in South Africa recover and adapt.

The SACITS study was made possible through a Faculty Research & Development Fellowship from Elon University.  The Elon Fellowship allowed McGraw to remain in South Africa following his Fulbright Specialist Grant, a consultation project with the South African State Theatre on their new musical FREEDOM.  He met with Creative Industry professionals at fifteen venues in the regions of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, and Stellenbosch and spent two weeks at the University of Cape Town developing the study with Ronel Jordaan, Senior Stage Manager and Production Manager for the Department of Drama.

Photo of the stage and audience seating taken from backstage.
Backstage view of the South African State Theatre prior to a performance of FREEDOM: The Musical

The SACITS study is based on the Stage Manager Survey, which McGraw created in 2006 and conducts biennially in the United States. The South African and American studies were conducted simultaneously so that some questions, such as salary negotiations, methods of commuting to work, and the number of financial dependents could be directly compared.  For instance, among 100 South Africans and 950 Americans who answered the same question, only 31 percent of South Africans compared to 74 percent of Americans had no one else dependent upon their Creative Industries salary.

The initial SACITS report, written for industry professionals, can be accessed at