Reimagined virtual arts festival receives warm welcomes

Published Jul 2, 2020


CAPE TOWN- Due to the Covid-19 outbreak in South Africa, the National Arts Festival has had to be reimagined to present performances and workshops on the virtual stage.

The 46th National Arts Festival kicked off last Thursday and is hosting a completely virtual experience this year to mitigate the on-going Covid-19 event and travel restrictions.

Held annually in Makanda, Eastern Cape, the festival allows for viewers to support performing artists and the arts.

CEO of the festival, Monica Newton said that everyday users have been registering for virtual performances and workshops from around the world.

“The online space has definitely opened up the festival to new audiences locally and abroad. We have had over 6,000 users a day using the site, and a lot of our workshops and interactive performances have been sold out,” said Newton.

The decision to make the festival virtual was made

in March

when the board of directors realised that the travel ban could still be in place.


“Rather than cancel the event, the organisation decided to take the experience online, a transition that took place in just over 100 days. The result is a richly diverse collection of works that totals more than 270 hours of viewing,” she said.

In order to meet the strict Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) protocols, Newton said the performances were recorded with no audiences and a limited cast and crew.

Given the success of the first virtual arts festival, Newton says future festivals may also incorporate more virtual and digital elements.

“The arts will definitely embrace the online space more and more and we will definitely be there to support them! With the unrelenting march of the pandemic across the globe, live events are definitely going to change as we reconsider formats to meet changing audience behaviours.”

Newton said that the arts and the Festival needs the support of audiences as the world faces an uncertain future. “I also hope the festival is an affirmation of how important the arts are to all of our lives!”.

To catch the virtual shows, performances or interactive workshops, visit

. Visitors can choose from a Full VNAF Pass which would include the Daily Programme for the full eleven days, or a daily pass.

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