’The Rebirth of Iqawe’, one of the shows at the 2020 Virtual National Arts Festival. Picture: Supplied
’The Rebirth of Iqawe’, one of the shows at the 2020 Virtual National Arts Festival. Picture: Supplied

Double dose of the National Arts Festival for fans near and far

By Alyssia Birjalal Time of article published May 10, 2021

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The National Arts Festival is taking on a hybrid experience this year to give everyone, near and far, a chance to participate in its offerings.

Last year the festival went completely virtual due to Covid-19, but this year, it is offering both a live and streaming experience.

The 11-day theatre and arts showcase offering the best in local entertainment, takes place in Makhanda, Eastern Cape, and will run from July 8 to 18, while the festival’s online offering will run throughout August.

Ahead of the main festival and for the first time ever, the National Arts Festival will also present a series of shows in cities across the country. The collection, "Standard Bank Presents“, will give audiences far and wide a taste of what the festival has to offer, from June 17 to July 4.

Monica Newton, the festival CEO, said the shows will act as as a window into what artists are thinking and doing.

“As we adapt to our ever-shifting Covid-19 reality, we need to try new things and imagine new ways for the arts to speak to audiences,” she said.

She added that the live and streaming experience will take art to audiences at a time when Covid-19 remains a threat.

“The National Arts Festival has adapted its festival experience to bring the arts to audiences where they are, and at a time when we still need to be very careful. The gathering of artists is an important catalyst to reignite the industry and the festival remains committed to presenting the best and safest possible space for artists and audiences to come together, experience and appreciate the arts”.

Newton said her team was curating a tighter, more intimate festival with strict Covid-19 protocols.

“This will be an opportunity to feel the pulse of a Covid-impacted arts world and to hear artists speak from live stages.

“We invite audiences to come and share this important moment with us,” she said.

Last year the online festival broke new ground by drawing over 83 000 visitors, hence the excitement to offer it again this year.

“Online experiences are here to stay and we are excited about further integrating this element into our offering,” said Newton.

The “2021 National Arts Festival Experience’s Makhanda Live” will showcase the works of the 2020 Standard Bank Young Artists, and announce the 2021 Standard Bank Young Artists. The Standard Bank Jazz Festival will also take place live and online.

The festival programme will be announced on June 7.

The Standard Bank Presents showcase will take place in various cities from June 17 Jun to July 4.

And “The National Arts Fesival’s Makhanda Live” will take place in Makhanda from July 8 to18 with the online festival taking place in August on National Arts Festival.

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