THE NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL CELEBRATES 50 YEARS

  • Category: Entertainment
The National Arts Festival takes place in Makhanda (formerly known as Grahamstown), Eastern Cape every year during winter and is made possible with the support of the Eastern Cape Government, Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and Standard Bank.
The eleven-day event is a diverse performing and visual arts festival with a strong curated programme and an independent, uncurated Fringe.
Work on the programme is predominantly South African but also features international and African works. Student work, new voices, emerging collaborations and stages for experimentation – a hallmark of the Festival – coexist in the small-town setting.
The Festival is also the stage on which new works by the Standard Bank Young Artists are experienced, going back through a long line of notable South African winners. In 2024, the National Arts Festival marks its 50th anniversary.
Bridging Generations, Celebrating Creativity – the National Arts Festival at Fifty
As the National Arts Festival commemorates fifty years from the 20th until the 30th of June in Makhanda, the Curated Programme reflects on universal themes that rang true at the founding of the Festival and all subsequent editions, and interrogates the urgency of distinct challenges particular to the here and now.
What started as a showcase of some 60 works in an attempt to preserve English culture and 1820 Settler heritage during the depths of apartheid, has transformed into South Africa’s longest-running and most diverse arts festival, featuring works across language and genre that attract an increasingly diverse South African and international audience.
Selected through a process of application, and lengthy curatorial panel review, the National Arts Festival’s Curated Programme is a creative litmus test of society and a reflection of the artists’ lens on South Africa and the world. The 2024 Curated Programme is a dialogue of ideas in a restless era as world orders shift, violence escalates and uncertainty prevails on the cusp of a post-truth world.
Says Artistic Director Rucera Seethal, “To encompass all that the Festival could and has ever been in a landmark year such as this is an overwhelming task and belies the Festival’s role in breaking out new work and reimagining older ones. So in creating this programme, we have played with the juxtaposition of old and new and the emergence of ambitious ideas that bring the Festival into a new era of cross-border and international collaboration.”
Some of the highlights from the Curated Programme include the world premiere of Third World Bunfight’s The Stranger, the cutting-edge new work 1789 by Sibikwa Arts Centre, a tribute to artists passed by Mandla Mbothwe and the innovative new works of the Standard Bank Young Artists. Through several visual art exhibitions, the history of the Festival is brought into the conversation, and exciting new projects that connect artists and creators from Africa take the Festival into a new direction for the future.

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2024-06-10T09:24:07+00:00