The curtain has gone up on the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and the city is buzzing in anticipation of the jam-packed programme of shows and events that lie ahead.
The event was officially opened by the Department of Art’s and Culture’s Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, who was accompanied by his Deputy Minister, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, at a ceremony hosted by the Provincial Government of the Eastern Cape. The Department of Arts and Culture has just announced an extension of their funding agreement with the National Arts Festival and will invest R 17 million in the event over the next three years.
Speaking at the press conference yesterday, Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudhafasi pointed to the Festival’s massive contribution to the economy of the Province as being a key reason for the re-investment by the Department, and highlighted the platform it gives, particularly, to crafters and SMMEs to derive economic benefit from their work.
The National Arts Festival contributes R349 936 380 to the Eastern Cape economy and the impact on the Grahamstown economy was last measured at R90 690 259 in 2013. An economic impact study is being conducted on the Festival this year and the results will become available later in the year.
Makana Mayor, Nomhle Gaga, welcomed everyone to the city of Grahamstown and said that the Festival was very important to the municipality, not only economically but also as a chance to bring a spotlight to the area.
The Eastern Cape’s MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Pemmy Majodina said that the Eastern Cape Government is particularly invested in the development of Eastern Cape Artists towards their participation at the Festival and beyond. The MEC said that the Eastern Cape Provincial Government had also increased their support of the Fingo Festival, an event that runs parallel to the National Arts Festival in the Fingo township. See more about this and other projects outside of the Festival in https://nationalartsfestival.prezly.com/grahamstown-the-creative-city
The Mayor, Eastern Cape MEC and National Arts Festival CEO, Tony Lankester, assured Festival-goers that the city was ready for the Festival and had an integrated team in place in case any unexpected situations arose during the Festival. Additional SAPS members have been brought in to assist with policing and the Festival has a large team of private security staff as well.
Standard Bank is another key sponsor of the National Arts Festival. “Standard Bank has had a long and proud relationship with the National Arts Festival which provides a stage to both nurture young talent and show case the rich diversity of our creative arts,” says Hazel Chimhandamba, head of Group Sponsorships at Standard Bank.
“The programme comprises the multi-disciplinary Standard Bank Young Artist Awards, which will feature 2016 awardees Jade Bowers, Themba Mbuli, Mohau Modisakeng, Avigail Bushakowitz and Siya Makuzeni, some of which will be premiering their works.
And not forgetting SA’s oldest jazz festival – the Standard Bank Jazz festival – which has attracted 150 of the world’s biggest jazz innovators from 14 countries. This platform opens up opportunities for networking and collaboration between international performers and their South African counterparts.”
The National Arts Festival also welcomed the National Lotteries Commission’s R 10 million sponsorship of the Fringe. This development was welcomed by Fringe artists who also received a R1000 rebate on their production costs as a result.
The Festival runs until 10 July. CEO, Tony Lankester says, “If people are feeling spontaneous, there is still some space just outside of Grahamstown and in the outer-lying regions – and there may be last minute cancellations so give it a try.” Equally, he urged Eastern Cape residents to make a day trip to Grahamstown to enjoy this “iconic event on their doorstep”.