The festival explores the realms of theatre, dance, visual art, film, music, gaming, hacking, coding, design, robotics, virtual reality, crowdsourced inspiration, artificial intelligence and all the spaces and crevices in between. Picture: Instagram
The festival explores the realms of theatre, dance, visual art, film, music, gaming, hacking, coding, design, robotics, virtual reality, crowdsourced inspiration, artificial intelligence and all the spaces and crevices in between. Picture: Instagram

The Virtual National Arts Festival is off to a great start

By Alyssia Birjalal Time of article published Jun 26, 2020

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For the first time in its 46-year history, the National Arts Festival is being held virtually. 

The online celebration of the arts got underway on Friday, June 26 and aside from a few technical glitches, the festival remained steady in showcasing everything set out for the day. 

The live event was suspended when Covid-19 shuttered theatres, cultural spaces and festivals globally. Rather than cancelling the event,  the organisation decided to take the experience online for eleven days. 

The festival will continue until Sunday, July 5, 2020 and includes art, music, theatre works, dance, talks and comedy and much more. This year's festival is a richly diverse collection of works that totals more than 270 hours of viewing online.

There will also be a vibrant Fringe visual art element to the Virtual National Arts Festival where artists are invited to exhibit their work. 

National Arts Festival Fringe manager, Zikhona Monaheng said: “We have facilitated this space for artists to showcase their work and also for buyers to be able to connect directly with artists and potentially even commission works. 

This is a great opportunity for artists who may not ordinarily be able to attend the Festival to exhibit through this virtual channel," said Monaheng. 

One of the major partners who have come onboard this year is ViacomCBS Networks Africa channel brand BET Africa. 

Monde Twala, senior vice president and general manager of ViacomCBS Networks Africa said: "The Virtual National Arts Festival opening is a momentous opportunity for Arts and Culture in South Africa and for the continent. 

ViacomCBS Networks together with BET Africa is excited to bring audiences extensive and inspiring content that will be showcased. 

We are thrilled to support the Virtual National Arts Festival alongside great partners like the Eastern Cape Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture and Standard Bank. Together we look forward to elevate local African creativity and talent to the world”. 

How it works 

The Festival occurs entirely on  National Arts Festival. The event consists of a daily programme, with new shows added every day, a vFringe for artists to stage their works and sell individual tickets, the vFringe Galleries; a collection of online art for audiences to browse and the Virtual Green where hundreds of crafters and traders were showcasing and selling their wares. Both the Standard Bank Jazz Festival and the Creativate Digital Art Festival were threaded into the Daily Programme. 

Visitors can choose from a Full VNAF Pass which includes the daily programme for the full eleven days (including the Standard Bank Jazz Festival), a daily pass – for which audiences can stream works falling on that specific day on demand – and a Jazz Pass for those who were focused on the jazz alone. Audiences can also buy single tickets for single shows.

The vFringe is not included in any of the passes, as this is where audiences are able to support artists directly by purchasing tickets for their individual shows. 

As the coronavirus has had such a heavy toll on the arts, the National Arts Festival waived the registration fees for artists to participate in the Fringe this year and 90% of the ticket takings will go directly to them. 

All tickets and passes bought will be valid until July 16, 2020. 

Audiences can play their purchased shows on any device with internet access. 

There are also a number of free events and workshops to explore at the Festival this year. Although they are free, audiences must book for these events in advance. 

Details on  how to buy passes and tickets for the Virtual National Arts Festival can be found on the Festival’s website  www.nationalartsfestival.co.za   

Trailers and teasers for the festival can be found on the National Arts Festival  YouTube channel.

View this post on Instagram

Our VNAF Studio Host @just_nontobeko connected with 2020 @standardbankarts Young Artist for Music, Nthato Mokgata (who is known to many as his alter-ego @spoekmathambo), about his introspective work for the Virtual Festival. His film VUKA ZIKHATHE – MASKANDI MENTOR will be available to stream ‪from 1 July‬ onwards. • • • We also caught up with the organisers of the Virtual Green, where your regular – and some new - crafters and makers can be found online (check out the Virtual Green on the website). And then, we chatted to Yvette Hardie from @assitej_za about ISISTIMELA SENDABA – THE STORY TRAIN, a daily children’s story from Africa ‪at ‬2pm • • • #wearestillcreating #findamazingeverywhere

A post shared by National Arts Festival(@nationalartsfestival) on Jun 26, 2020 at 5:04am PDT

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