The university town of Grahamstown played host to the National Arts Festival.
Over 50 000 people flock to Grahamstown each year for the festival, for one of the big-gest highlights on South Africa’s cultural calendar which is organised by the Graham-stown Foundation. For over a week, revellers are spoilt for choice with a range of pro-ductions in arts, music, theatre, dance and crafts.
This year was extra special though as South Africa commemorated 40 years since the landmark June 16 student uprising in Soweto.
Speaking at the media launch of the National Arts Festival, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi said arts remain important because the National Devel-opment Plan advocates that “arts and culture open powerful spaces for debate about where a society finds itself and where it is going”.
“Promoted effectively, the creative and cultural industries can contribute substantially to small business development, job creation and urban development and renewal,” she said.
In its 42 years of existence, the National Arts Festival continues to attract more audi-ences both locally and internationally. The festival has a large and diverse pro-gramme, featuring all arts disciplines over an 11-day period.
In both its diversity and scale, the National Arts Festival is the only of its kind in the country and it seeks to unleash the economic potential of the arts sector towards job creation, nation building and social cohesion.
The Department of Arts and Culture supports a number of flagship projects and festi-vals in every province of the country. It provides funding for 22 national and regional festivals and over 80 other cultural events.
The Department of Arts and Culture has signed a three-year agreement with the National Arts Festival organisers and committed R17 million.
Mzansi Golden Economy
The National Arts Festival is one of many annual festivals supported through the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) strategy across the country, which includes both small and large scale festivals such as Mangaung Cultural Festival (MACUFE) in Free State; Cape Town International Jazz Festival; Diamonds and Dorings Festival in the Northern Cape; Marula Festival in Limpopo and Buyela’khaya Festival in Easter Cape, among others.
Through the Mzansi Golden Economy Open Call process, the department is establish-ing a Debut Fund to create opportunities for young artists to publish their first book, produce their first play, cut their first album or host their first exhibition.