Return of the National Arts Festival in 2022, a huge success

Monica Newton (Chief Executive) and her team are almost ready to get started right away for the 2023 edition of the largest art festival on the continent after the National Arts Festival (NAF) 2022’s highly successful comeback.

The National Arts Festival Office is a non-profit Section 21 Company that is in charge of both the NAF’s Main Program and its Fringe Festival. The Festival’s schedule includes live music, visual art exhibitions, seminars and workshops, a sizable food and craft fair, and historical tours of the city in addition to performing arts (theatre, dance, stand-up comedy, and live music). A children’s arts festival is held during the NAF, and Makhanda hosts a variety of other festivals at that time, including the National Youth Jazz Festival.

In order to embrace and celebrate the nation’s diverse talent, Newton, the CEO of NAF, said she was thrilled to welcome back the festival’s attendees who love the arts and theater to Makhanda, the festival’s birthplace. After holding hybrid and digital events for the previous two years, the festival switched back to its regular full-live style this year.

The previous 11 days at Makhanda have been jam-packed with amazing music, gorgeous art exhibits, exhilarating poetry, dance performances, gripping theatre performances, exchanges and discussions about the creative industry, and the path forward following Covid, among other topics.

“We had modest expectations going into this festival because there were so many unknowns and we were planning with full covid regulations – distancing, masks, capacity,” says Newton as she considers some of the good points and low points of the program.

“So we were very aware that this festival was a product of its context. And then, of course, those contexts changed throughout the whole of the festival. So it has been a complicated beast probably the most complicated element actually being the load shedding. We had to change, move, shift in the worst-case scenario, and cancel. Having said that, we developed our own ticketing system this year. So the system that you’ve been using to see shows is something that we built and within that system is the ability to email ticket holders, to communicate changes,” adds Newton.

Newton also thanked festival attendees for their attendance and support. “Over the past few days we learned that the audiences are with us, they are supportive, they are tolerant, they are patient. As much as artists were so looking forward to performing to live audiences, the audience also missed this experience.”

Before the winner is announced, Newton indicated that the five finalists would go through a mentoring process and work with those scripts over the ensuing few months. Next year’s event will offer the winner the chance to present new work.Makhanda hosted the National Arts Festival from June 23 to July 3.

“And then, of course, later in the year we’ll see the Standard Bank Young Artists, the next cohort of incredibly special young artists. We’ll be announcing a new group who will join us and then join the festival in 2023, with their incredible work. And of course, we do keep in touch with the past alumni. We always keep an eye on what they do, and how they’re doing it. And many of them performed at this year’s National Jazz Festival … so many of them joined us, Kyle Shepherds, Benjamin Jephta” said Newton.

Also read: 28th annual South African Music Awards Nominees

Source of Info: National Arts Festival

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