National Arts Festival

National Arts Festival
Genre Arts Festival
Dates June/July annually
Location(s) Grahamstown
Years active 41
Founded 13 July 1973
Attendance 241,116[1]
Patron(s) Standard Bank, MNET, National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, City Press, Eastern Cape Government
National Arts Festival

The National Arts Festival (NAF) is an important event on the South African cultural calendar, and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent.[2]

Starting at the end of June/beginning of July, it runs for 11 days and is held in the small university city of Grahamstown,[3] which is situated in the Eastern Cape, 130 km from Port Elizabeth.

The NAF consists of a main and fringe programme both administered by the National Arts Festival Office. The NAF is reliant on sponsorship with the core sponsors being the Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank of South Africa, National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, National Arts Council, Transnet, City Press newspaper and MNet

The programme comprises drama, dance, physical theatre, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art exhibitions, film, student theatre, street theatre, lectures, craft fair, workshops, tours (of the city and surrounding historic places) and a children's arts festival.

The event has always been open to all regardless of race, colour, sex or creed. As no censorship or artistic restraint has ever been imposed on works presented in Grahamstown the NAF served as an important forum for political and protest theatre during the height of the apartheid era, and it still offers an opportunity for experimentation across the arts spectrum. Its significance as a forum for new ideas and an indicator of future trends in the arts cannot be underestimated.


Grahamstown has been associated with carnivals and festivals for more than 180 years as British immigrants established the tradition of celebrating landmark anniversaries on a grand scale. When a movement gained ground last century to erect a memorial to these pioneers it was agreed that it should be a "living" monument presenting festivals, conferences and other gatherings.

An Inaugural Festival was held in 1974 when the 1820 Settlers National Monument was officially opened, with the exception of 1975, a festival has been organised every year since then. The NAF was a project of the Grahamstown Foundation for 28 years and in 2002 became a Section 21 Company with an independent board of directors. It however still operates out of the 1820 Settlers National Monument where it rents office space and the performance facilities.

From the beginning the programme was not confined to one venue, other facilities in the city were also used. A trend that developed as the NAF grew and today approximately 50 venues are scattered throughout the Grahamstown area.

The main programme

A committee of experts in the various disciplines selects the content of the Main programme. The planning process takes into account what is available locally and from outside South Africa. Three considerations that influence decisions are the artistic merits of any submission, the creation of a varied and balanced programme, and the costs involved. The Committee strives for excellence in all aspects of the programme, an approach that has assisted in bringing in sponsorship money for world class shows from a number of foreign governments and large multinational corporations.

The fringe

Today, the Fringe is on an equal footing with the Main Festival. Seasoned performers and famous directors can just as easily be found on either programme, and a slot on the main programme one year does not preclude a return to the Fringe the next. The distinguishing feature of the Fringe is that it is open to all and exempt from the selection process that applies to the main programme. Fringe participants are responsible for their own costs and 85% of their box office sales accrue to them directly. They are liable for certain payments for venue hire and registration fees.

Subsidiary fests

A number of subsidiary festivals take place as part of the National Arts Festival:

Young Artist Awards

The Young Artist Awards, sponsored by the Standard Bank, are presented by the National Arts Festival Artistic Committee to emerging, relatively young South African artists who have demonstrated exceptional ability in their chosen fields but who have not yet achieved national exposure and acclaim.

Festival Committee members, fellow artists and interested members of the public, nominate artists. The NAF Committee, a group of experts in the various arts disciplines, decides on the final recipients.

Designed to encourage the recipients in the pursuit of their careers, a key aspect of the awards is that they guarantee the artists a place on the main programme of the forthcoming National Arts Festival. Apart from a cash prize, each of the winners receive substantial financial backing for their Festival participation whether this involves the mounting of an exhibition or the staging of a production.

A maximum of five awards are made annually in any one of the disciplines of drama, music, jazz, visual art, dance and film. Since the inception of the awards in 1981 a total of 105 awards have been presented plus five special awards to artists in recognition of their contribution to the National Arts Festival and the arts of South Africa. A complete list of previous winners is as follows:[7]

Year Music Drama Dance Jazz Visual Art Other
2017 Abel Selaocoe Monageng “Vice” Motshabi Thandazile Radebe Benjamin Jephta Beth Armstrong Dineo Bopape (Performance Art)
2016[8] Avigail Bushakevitz Jade Bowers Themba Mbuli Siya Makuzeni Mohau Modisakeng
2015 Musa Ngqunqwana Christiaan Olwagen Luyanda Sibiya Nduduzo Makhathini Kemang Wa Lehurele Athi Patra Ruga (Performance Art)
2014 Njabulo Madlala Greg Homann Nicola Elliott Kyle Shepherd Hasan & Husain Essop Jahmil XT Qubeka (Film)

Donna Kukama (Performance Art)

2013 Runette Botha Prince Lamla Fana Tshabalala Shane Cooper Mary Sibande Anthea Moys (Performance Art)
2012 Kelebogile Boikanyo Princess Mhlongo Bailey Snyman Afrika Mkhize Mikhael Subotzky
2011 Ben Schoeman Neil Coppen Mamela Nyamza Bokani Dyer Nandipha Mntambo
2010 Samson Diamond Janni Younge Mlu Zondi Melanie Scholtz Michael MacGarry Claire Angelique (Film)
2009 Jacques Imbrailo Ntshieng Mokgoro Thabo Rapoo Kesivan Naidoo Nicholas Hlobo
2008 Zanne Stapelberg Jaco Bouwer Dada Masilo Mark Fransman Nontsikelelo Veleko
2007 Bronwen Forbay Acty Tang Shannon Mowday Pieter Hugo Akin Omotoso (Film)
2006 Sylvaine Strike Hlengiwe Lushaba Concord Nkabinde Churchill Madikida
2005 Andile Yenana Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom Peter John Sabbagha Wim Botha Ramolao Makhene (Standard Bank Special Award for the invaluable contribution to and significant achievement in Theatre – posthumous award)
2004 Tutu Puoane Mncedisi Baldwin Shabangu Portia Lebogang Mashigo Kathryn Smith Moses Taiwa Molelekwa (Standard Bank Special Award for the invaluable contribution to and significant achievement in Music – posthumous award)
2003 Angela Gilbert Yael Farber Moya Michael Berni Searle Dumisani Phakhati (Film)
2002 Prince Kupi Sello Maake Ka-Ncube Gregory Vuyani Maqoma Brett Murray
2001 Fikile Mvinjelwa Brett Bailey Tracey Human Walter Oltmann
2000 Gloria Bosman Zenzi Mbuli Alan Alborough
1998 Bongani Ndodana-Breen Aubrey Sekhabi David Mudanalo Matamela and Debbie Rakusin Nhlanhla Xaba
1997 Sibongile Mngoma (Opera) Geoffrey Hyland Lien Botha Alfred Hinkel (Standard Bank Special Award for invaluable contribution to and significant achievement in Dance)
1996 Victor Masondo Lara Foot Newton Vincent Mantsoe Trevor Makhoba
1995 Abel Motsoadi John Ledwaba Boyzie Cekwana Jane Alexander
1994 Michael Williams (Opera) Jerry Mofokeng Sam Nhlengethwa
1993 Sibongile Khumalo Christopher Kindo Pippa Skotnes
1992 Raphael Vilakazi Deon Opperman Tommy Motswai Kevin Harris (Film)
1991 Peter Ngwenya Andries Botha Darrell Roodt (Film)
1990 Robyn Orlin Fée Halsted-Berning and Bonnie Ntshalintshali
1989 Johnny Clegg Marthinus Basson Gary Gordon Helen Sebidi Pieter-Dirk Uys (Drama) (1820 Foundation Special Award)
1988 Mbongeni Ngema Margaret Vorster
1987 Hans Roosenschoon William Kentridge
1986 Andrew Buckland Gavin Younge
1985 Sidwill Hartman Maishe Maponya Marion Arnold
1984 Ken Leach Peter Schütz Lamar Crowson (Music) (Standard Bank / 1820 Foundation 10th Anniversary Special Award)
1983 David Kosviner Paul Slabolepszy Malcolm Payne
1982 Janice Honeyman Lindy Raizenberg (Ballet) Neil Rodger
1981 John Theodore Richard E Grant Jules van de Vijver

Fringe awards

In 2010 the National Arts Festival launched a new set of awards for Fringe productions – the Standard Bank Ovation Awards. The Awards recognise excellence on the Fringe, and aim to seek out those productions that stand out from the crowd and are innovative, original and creatively outstanding. At the end of the NAF the "Top 5" Ovations are named – the best productions in the categories theatre, dance, comedy, music and a "wild card" category that spans all genres and each receive a cash prize courtesy of Standard Bank.[9] Previous winners of these awards have been selected to tour internationally to Fringe Festivals in Adelaide, Amsterdam, Brighton, Edinburgh, Perth and Prague.[10]

Growth and development

The NAF has grown since its inception. In 1974 there were 64 events on the main programme. (Events refer to productions, exhibitions, workshops, lectures, tours and so forth. A drama or dance production is counted as a single event irrespective of how many times it may be performed.) The Fringe started in 1979 with 10 events. As of 2010 the National Arts Festival comprises more than 350 events with over 1,200 performances.[11]

The 2015 Festival reported attendance of 241 116.[1]

The Village Green craft fair was introduced in 1989 with approximately 90 stalls. Now it attracts close to 1,000 stallholders. The fair offers visitors the chance to buy an array of goods, from pure wool sweaters to handcrafted beadwork, and there are stalls offering a various exotic foods. In addition, there are Craft Villages at Fiddlers Green and on Church Square.

Social responsibility

The National Arts Festival claims to be a socially responsible festival, this however, has been contested.[12]

The Hands On! Masks Off! programme focuses on strengthening the entrepreneurial skills of the arts community by bringing together arts entrepreneurs to share skills and knowledge with a new generation of arts managers.[13]

In 2010 the Remix Laboratory saw a 120 community-based artists from around the country participate in a residency programme during the NAF. The scholars attended workshops, seminars, performances and visits to galleries while being mentored in arts practice and arts appreciation.

The Art Factory teaches local marginalised and vulnerable youth performance skills such as juggling and acrobatics and combines this with a strategic focus on building the life skills and confidence of the youth. The Art Factory functions as a year round project in Grahamstown.

As part of the ArtsReach Programme the National Arts Festival takes the arts to hospitals, clinics, old age homes and rural areas. A number of artists on the Fringe volunteer their performances for the ArtsReach programme during the NAF.

The Arts Encounter Project distributes a number of tickets to indigent individuals to enable them to enjoy productions from the NAF's main and fringe programmes.


The NAF publishes an annual booking kit/programme which includes information on the programme, where to stay and how to get to Grahamstown.


In 1989 a computerised booking system was introduced and in 1997, for the first time in the history of South African theatre, the NAF introduced Internet bookings. Through the NAF website, which had been in operation since 1994, it became possible for people from remote areas, and especially foreign visitors, to make bookings for the NAF, without leaving their homes.


The NAF has a small permanent staff comprising six full-time staff members. Former radio presenter and sponsorship manager Tony Lankester was appointed CEO in December 2007, and shortly thereafter he named Ismail Mahomed as the NAF director to oversee the curation of the NAF's artistic content. Mahomed's tenure as artistic director ended after the 2016 festival, he was replaced by Ashraf Johaardien[14] During the NAF the staff grows to about 400, including technical staff, largely drawn from the Grahamstown community.

International partnerships

The National Arts Festival is a member of the World Fringe Alliance,[15] a grouping of nine Fringe Festivals from different countries. It is also a member of the African Festival Network (AFRIFESTNET). CEO Tony Lankester is chairman and Treasurer of the two organisations respectively.[15][16] The NAF embarks on numerous partnerships with foreign embassies and presenting institutions, staging several high profile international works each year.

See also

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 Kennedy, Christina (15 July 2015). "'Significant' increase in attendance at this year's National Art Festival". Business Day Live. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  2. "Grahamstown Festival – MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 1 November 2009.
  3. Ben Fogel (13 July 2012). "A Festival of Resistance". Mahala. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  7. Young Artist Award History at the Wayback Machine (archived 29 October 2014)
  8. "The 2016 Standard Bank Young Artist Awards winners have been announced". 29 October 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  9. "National Arts Festival announces Fringe Awards" (Press release). 5 July 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2014 via Artslink.
  10. Craig Dalglish (15 February 2012). "Miskien – An interview with producer/director Tara Notcott". Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  11. "National Arts Festival reports attendance of almost 186 000" (Press release). 6 July 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2014 via Grocott's Mail.
  12. A Festival of Resistance, Mahala, Ben Fogel 13 July 2012
  13. "National Arts Festival sets social responsibility trends". Grocott's Mail. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  14. "Ashraf Johaardien Named as New National Arts Festival Executive Producer". 14 July 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-25.
  15. 1 2 "World Fringe Alliance". Artsmart – arts news from kwazulu-natal. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  16. [[backPid]=12&cHash=8f1978a10997e4e5b4959344c3bbbf9b "AFRIFESTNET Now Launched"]. AfricAvenir International. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  • Snowball, J. D.; Willis, K. G. (2006). "Estimating the Marginal Utility of Different Sections of an Arts Festival: the Case of Visitors to the South African National Arts Festival". Leisure Studies. 25 (1): 43–56. doi:10.1080/0261436052000330410. ISSN 0261-4367. 
  • Snowball, J.D.; Webb, A.C.M. (2008). "Breaking into the conversation: cultural value and the role of the South African National Arts Festival from apartheid to democracy". International Journal of Cultural Policy. 14 (2): 149–164. doi:10.1080/10286630802106326. ISSN 1028-6632. 
  • Kenneth W. Grundy (1994-07). "The Politics of South Africa's National Arts Festival: Small Engagements in the Bigger Campaign". African Affairs. 93 (372): 387–409. JSTOR 723369.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Verweij, P. (2009). "Making Convergence Work in the Newsroom: A Case Study of Convergence of Print, Radio, Television and Online Newsrooms at the African Media Matrix in South Africa During the National Arts Festival". Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. 15 (1): 75–87. doi:10.1177/1354856508097020. ISSN 1354-8565. 
  • Willis, K. G.; Snowball, J. D. (2009). "Investigating how the attributes of live theatre productions influence consumption choices using conjoint analysis: the example of the National Arts Festival, South Africa". Journal of Cultural Economics. 33 (3): 167–183. doi:10.1007/s10824-009-9097-z. ISSN 0885-2545. 
  • Snowball, J.D.; Willis, K.G. (2006). "BUILDING CULTURAL CAPITAL: TRANSFORMING THE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL". The South African Journal of Economics. 74 (1): 20–33. doi:10.1111/j.1813-6982.2006.00046.x. ISSN 0038-2280. 
  • Saayman, Melville; Rossouw, Riaan (2011). "The significance of festivals to regional economies: measuring the economic value of the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in South Africa". Tourism Economics. 17 (3): 603–624. doi:10.5367/te.2011.0049. ISSN 1354-8166. 
  • M Kruger; M Saayman; SM Ellis (2010). "Does loyalty pay? First-time versus repeat visitors at a national arts festival". Southern African Business Review. 14 (1). Retrieved 6 September 2014. 
  • Saayman, Melville; Saayman, Andrea (2006). "Does the location of arts festivals matter for the economic impact?". Papers in Regional Science. 85 (4): 569–584. doi:10.1111/j.1435-5957.2006.00094.x. ISSN 1056-8190. 
  • Snowball, J. D. (2005). "Art for the Masses? Justification for the Public Support of the Arts in Developing Countries – Two Arts Festivals in South Africa". Journal of Cultural Economics. 29 (2): 107–125. doi:10.1007/s10824-005-5064-5. ISSN 0885-2545. 
  • Snowball, J.D.; Antrobus, G.G. (2005). "VALUING THE ARTS". South African Journal of Economics. 70 (8): 1297–1319. doi:10.1111/j.1813-6982.2002.tb00067.x. ISSN 0038-2280. 
  • Snowball, J.D. (2005). "INTERPRETING ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY RESULTS: SPENDING PATTERNS, VISITOR NUMBERS AND FESTIVAL AIMS". South African Journal of Economics. 72 (5): 1076–1084. doi:10.1111/j.1813-6982.2004.tb00146.x. ISSN 0038-2280. 
  • Bain, Keith (1998). "Make Believe: Standard Bank National Arts Festival Grahamstown, 2–12 July 1998". South African Theatre Journal. 12 (1–2): 137–164. doi:10.1080/10137548.1998.9687669. ISSN 1013-7548. 
  • van der Vyver, Abraham G.; du Plooy-Cilliers, Franzél (2006). "The social dynamics of arts festivals: A comparative analysis of the KKNK and the Grahamstown National Arts Festival". South African Theatre Journal. 20 (1): 192–203. doi:10.1080/10137548.2006.9687832. ISSN 1013-7548. 
  • Kitshoff, Herman (2004). "Grahamstown National Arts Festival—Grahamstown, 1–10 July 2004". South African Theatre Journal. 18 (1): 246–249. doi:10.1080/10137548.2004.9687791. ISSN 1013-7548. 
  • Lewis, Megan (1998). "Standard Bank National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa, 3–13 July 1997 (review)". Theatre Journal. 50 (1): 105–107. doi:10.1353/tj.1998.0018. ISSN 1086-332X. 
  • Neethling, Miemie (2011). "To fund or not to fund". South African Theatre Journal. 14 (1): 202–217. doi:10.1080/10137548.2000.9687710. ISSN 1013-7548. 

Coordinates: 33°19′10″S 26°31′10″E / 33.31945°S 26.51933°E / -33.31945; 26.51933

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/18/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.