Rhod� Snyman

“I’m so excited,” says Rhodé Snyman (pictured) about her appointment as the chief executive of the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) for the next couple of years.

She’s truly one of the babies of the KKNK because, as she explains it: “I feel as if I have been in a 20-year-long internship.”

From the founding days, Snyman was a volunteer and a part-time worker until she was fully employed, and this has been her life since those first days 20 years ago.

“It was my first experience of the art world, but since then, together with my passion for the community and culture of Oudtshoorn and the Klein Karoo, that’s the community I wish to serve,” she says.

She loves the fact that they have been able to accommodate both communities and this is what she is hoping to further nourish and embolden. And if her experience in this world is limited, she will be the first to admit that she also has the support of a strong team around her, among others programme director Theo Kemp, who was praised all round for a smartly balanced yet strong theatrical programme in this, their 20th anniversary year.

Snyman knows her challenges well. It’s a delicate balance, to keep the festival unique and independent but also a part of the community she lives and grew up in. Looking ahead, she wants to be more proactive in finding unique experiences for audiences visiting the annual festival in March.

“We need to guide the programming from within and not wait for ideas to find us,” she notes, which means that they will be actively looking for shows and work that will get audiences talking and excited.

“We live in an area that conjures up romance and nostalgia, which is also something we don’t want to neglect.”

She is aware that they have to stand strongly and independently in the community, not as one but at least part of one another.

The exciting thing about Snyman is that she grew up in the arts community and found her festival legs in exactly the spot where she is now expected to lead.

She’s up for the challenge and the last year showed her some of her strengths as caretaker following Brett Pyper’s end of term.

At the KKNK’s award-winning function (see results), she again nailed her colours to the mast as she congratulated winners, praised the quality of work and expressed the wish that many of these productions would travel around the country.

It’s not only about the festival. To thrive, the artists have to believe their work will be seen more widely than on just one stage, and that this is just the beginning. – Diane de Beer