Set to take place in a few days, the 2015 ACT | UJ Arts & Culture Conference entitled Creatives Make It Happen, promises an engaging and stimulating programme.

The line-up, which boasts a new format and exciting content, will have delegates engage with topics around creating and accessing opportunities presented in their industries, and how creatives can impact society by playing an economically important role.

This year’s conference, which offers a different experience from previous years, has established itself as one where innovative and forward-thinking individuals will gather to share ideas that will help stimulate both business and creative sectors. In line with what the conference stands for, presenters opening the third conference are just some of the very people who have made a mark by pushing the boundaries in their industries.

The opening cluster, entitled ‘Imagine it’ – taking place at the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) on Bunting Road Campus – will be emceed by international comedy sensation Tats Nkonzo, who will set the scene and ensure participants are well-prepared for the sessions to follow in the cluster-based conference programme. Nkonzo, who recently won the 2014 Montreux International Comedy Contest in Switzerland, is known for his work on stage and television on shows such as SA’s Got Talent and Late Night News with Loyiso Gola. He recently signed a deal with comedy promoters Mick Perrin Worldwide – responsible for South Africa’s very own Trevor Noah, Eddie Izzard, Dylan Moran, Ross Noble and Reginald D Hunter.

An address by visionary Dion Chang of Flux Trends will consider The Creative Economy 2.0, encouraging those present to ‘stop thinking out of the box and start rethinking the packaging’! Sharing his experiences in the industry as a leading creative thinker, his presentation will look at how a global and local state of disorder may be seen as an opportunity by repositioning ourselves through creative thinking.

A Food Jam, presented by 2012 Masterchef SA top 10 finalist Jade de Waal, will offer presenters and delegates an unparalleled chance to network, by collaborating through the preparation and sharing of a meal.

The ‘Food Jam’ phenomenon has grown over the past five years from what started as a way of bringing Jade’s friends together for an enjoyable evening, into a thriving business.

“More than anything Food Jams is a get-together based on the way I learnt music. The first Jam happened in 2010 with a few friends who wanted to learn how to cook. A few Jams later, it was friends of friends, we were all strangers, but it didn’t really matter because we were creating a meal together and also realising we could cook. I’ve used Food Jams as an excuse to work, and delegates at the Creative Conference will come together in creating a meal, be encouraged to improvise and really get to play with their food,” explains de Waal.

A cluster of sessions titled ‘Hear It’ will roll out on Monday 9 March, providing an overview of the local and international creative industries. These sessions will look at where South Africa is located in terms of international trends and creative industries. Experts will give insight into the thinking and formal structures within which the South African market is operating, and allow for insightful discussion around fundamental matters.

The third cluster, ‘Own It‘, will give examples of new and current business models, featuring presentations from different kinds of creatives who have pursued unconventional ways of sustaining their businesses; while ‘Learn It‘, the fourth cluster of sessions curated in partnership with Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), will look at practical examples and experiences offering enlightened perspectives, in the hopes of bridging the gaps between investors, creatives, and their markets.

One of the particularly exciting components of this year’s conference, taking place towards the close of the programme, is a tour taking delegates into nearby creative communities where they will be able to engage with new spaces, case studies and related conversations. This is intended to stimulate innovation and inspiration in the sector. The tour allows delegates to make choices to attend the area and sessions likely to be most interesting for them.

The ACT | UJ Arts & Culture Conference is presented by the Arts & Culture Trust, UJ Arts & Culture and British Council Connect ZA, with support from the Department of Arts and Culture, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), SAMRO Foundation, Pro Helvetia, the Delegation of the European Union in South Africa, the SA-UK Seasons 2014 & 2015; and media partners Classicfeel magazine and UJfm. The conference will run from the 8 – 10 March 2015 and is based at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Bunting Road and Kingsway Campuses.

Tickets are now available via www.webtickets.co.za. Tickets range from R200 for one cluster, to R1000 for a full conference pass (Clusters 1 to 5). Student passes are R350 for attendance at Clusters 2 to 5. To stay up to date with information and opportunities, visit www.creativeconference.co.za. @actujconference #creativesmakeithappen

Connect with the speakers above on Twitter: @dionchang, @fluxtrends, @FoodJams, @TatsNkonzo