The South African National Association for the Visual Arts


SANAVA is the oldest, constitutionally established, most representative, national non-governmental association for the promotion of the visual arts in South Africa, its origin dating back to 1851 when the Cape Fine Arts Society (CFAS) was established.   

Over the years, the Society has grown to become a national body of artists and lovers of the visual arts. The organisation proved its resilience despite several war-time situations and challenges of an economic, financial, social and political nature. Several name changes were due to follow: in 1871 it became the South African Fine Arts Association (SAFAA), in 1945 the South African Association of Arts (SAAA), and in 1998 the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA).  Despite the name changes, the Association basically retained the same objectives as reflected in the original Constitution, that of promoting the visual arts in its widest context. One of SANAVA’s major objectives concerning the development of artists relates to the administration of three fully equipped artists’ studios, in the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France. These were acquired during the early 1990s in terms of an occupational rights agreement, valid till 2060.

SANAVA is an overall administrative body, serving autonomous branches and affiliated organisations (art galleries, museums, educational institutions and corporate bodies providing for the promotion of the visual arts) country-wide.   Presently, the Association comprises 25 autonomous branches and 27 affiliated museums, galleries, academic institutions  and corporate bodies, each of them promoting the visual arts in its own way.    Its Constitution does not allow for individual artists directly to become members of the national association.   They have to be members of a branch that is a member of the national body.

The National Association is registered with the Department of Social Development as a Non Government Organisation (NGO) and with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO).  It is the South African member of the International Association of Art (IAA) with head office in Paris, France, which is recognised as a NGO in official relations with UNESCO

Recent news

SANAVA urges artists to enter L'Atelier 2015
The South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA) urges artists to enter South Africa's longest running art competition, L'Atelier.

SANAVA Matters

Read the latest issue of SANAVA Matters. We want to bring you fresh news from all the art fronts, tell you about exciting art competitions and opportunities for artists. You can also read previous issues.

Main Objectives

The promotion of the visual arts in general

The development of visual artists

Furthering international cooperation in the field of the visual arts

Management Committee

National President

(Stellenbosch Association of Arts)

National Vice-Presidents

Alexander ELLIS
(Association of Arts Pretoria)

(Vaal University of Technology, Vanderbijlpark)

Yvonne BURNS
(Association of Arts Pretoria)
Honorary National Treasurer for the year 2013/2014

Alexander ELLIS
(Association of Arts Pretoria)

Co-opted Member

Barry Gibb
 (East London)


Junxion Communications
(082 551 4853,

Membership of SANAVA

You can become involved with SANAVA either as an individual member of an existing branch of your choice or as an affiliate of the National Association.   There is no regional consideration involved if you should wish to join a branch, although practical considerations would be advisable.  

With regard to applying for membership, branches all have there own procedures to be followed.   Becoming a member of a branch automatically renders you membership of SANAVA.   In the case e.g. of a gallery applying for direct membership of SANAVA, there are no application forms to be completed; a deposit of the annual affiliation fee of R500 serves as only formality except for the necessity to approach SANAVA beforehand about such eventuality and informing the Association about the name of the affiliate and particulars of the relevant contact person (postal,   telephone, fax and email addresses).  


Approved and adopted at the Annual General Meeting on 2 October 1998, and amended at Annual General Meetings on 23 April 2004, 21 April 2006, 27 April 2007 and 28 August 2010.

Sanava: A member of the IAA

The South African Association of Arts (SAAA), earlier name of the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), was a founding member of the International Association of Art (IAA)/Association Internationale des Arts Plastiques (AIAP). The IAA is a non-governmental world body run by and for visual artists in every medium, style and tradition. It was founded in 1954 under the auspices of UNESCO. Artists from countries worldwide are represented by their national committees. At the 1st General Assembly of the IAA, held in Venice from 28 September to 3 October 1954, the SAAA was represented by an established visual artist, Walter Battiss. He was elected as a member of the organisation’s first Executive Committee, together with representatives from Brazil, USA, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Japan and Sweden.

The principal objectives of the IAA are:
  • to stimulate international co-operation, free from any aesthetic, political or other bias, among artists of all countries;
  • to improve the economic and social position of artists at the international level, and to defend their material and moral rights; and
  • to co-operate with UNESCO in the field of the visual arts

Apply for an international museum card