Arts festival news: South Africa’s National Arts Festival evolves into a hybrid festival Experience for 2021

What: National Arts Festival [NAF] 2021

Format: Hybrid festival -live and online
Live National Arts Festival: Makhanda Live– July 8-18 in Makhanda and also live shows- Standard Bank Presents showcase in various cities from June 17 to July 4
Online National Arts Festival: July – presented virtually on the festival’s website   

The National Arts Festival [NAF] was a trailblazer in 2020, when it presented the entire festival online, as a virtual festival – with 83 000 visitors – watching online.  The exciting news is that in the 2nd year of lockdown, the NAF has pivoted to a hybrid festival. There will be an in-person festival in Makhanda- live shows on-stage. In addition to Makhanda, there will also be a showcase of on-stage shows around the country AND there will be an online, virtual festival, presented on the festival’s website. The 48-year old festival is rolling out an innovative programme to “reignite the arts and bring performances” to people around the country. The programme will be announced on June 7, so check back for developments. Info as supplied:

Makhanda Live

We are pleased to announce a return to the live stage in our home town with Makhanda Live! The heart of the National Arts Festival Experience, it’s an 11-day live festival that will be smaller and more intimate than before but also provide the ground zero to reignite the arts.

National Arts Festival Evolves into a Hybrid Festival Experience for 2021

The Online National Arts Festival continues to bring exciting and accessible online work to audiences across the globe and we can also share that, for the first time ever, we are bringing works to towns and cities in South Africa with a limited selection of shows called Standard Bank Presents.  

Multi-layered arts experience for NAF 2021

The National Arts Festival has announced that it will present a multi-layered arts experience for its 2021 edition. The National Arts Festival Experience will revive its live 11 day National Arts Festival in its home city of Makhanda in the Eastern Cape from July 8-18 (Makhanda Live) and stage a National Arts Festival Online which will be entirely online in July. And, for the first time ever, the National Arts Festival will present a series of shows, in partnership with Standard Bank, in cities across the country. The collection, called Standard Bank Presents, will give audiences across the country a taste of what the Festival has to offer from  June 17 to July 4 July, 2021. 

National Arts Festival CEO, Monica Newton: “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 about where we go and what we do to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.” 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. “We are curating a tighter, more intimate Festival in Makhanda and we do have to work very carefully around the Covid protocols, but we think it 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.” 

The NAF successfully transitioned into an online festival in 2020, drawing a global audience of over 83 000 visitors and breaking new ground for the South African arts sector. “Online experiences are here to stay and we are excited about further integrating this element into our offering,” says Newton. 

The National Arts Festival’s decision to present work in other cities was founded on the realization that some audiences may not be willing or able to travel far and that many artists would struggle to afford the costs of travel to Makhanda as a result of the impact of the pandemic. “Our new showcase, Standard Bank Presents will give people a taste of the National Arts Festival and a window into what our artists are thinking and doing. As we adapt to our ever-shifting Covid reality, we need to try new things and imagine new ways for the arts to speak to audiences,” says Newton.

Newton said the Festival was realistic about the capacity of audiences and artists to travel to the Festival in Makhanda but pointed out that the Festival’s Eastern Cape visitors accounted for 55% of their pre-Covid attendance figures in 2019*. [*Source: The Social, Cultural and Economic Impact of the 2019 National Arts Festival by J. Snowball and G. Antrobus]. This points to the likelihood of the live event in Makhanda largely attracting day-trippers and weekenders, and of course the Super Fans; the ardent group of festival-goers who have already signalled their intention to support the live performances, no matter where they are.  

The 2021 National Arts Festival Experience’s Makhanda Live will showcase the works of the 2020 Standard Bank Young Artists and will also be the stage on which the 2021 Standard Bank Young Artists will be announced. The Standard Bank Jazz Festival will take place live and online, reaching a jazz-loving audience locally, on the Continent and across the world.  

Newton acknowledged that long-standing partnerships were key to the Festival’s adaptability, “We are very lucky to have the support of the Eastern Cape Government and Standard Bank, Sarah Baartman Municipality, Distell and Business and Arts South Africa who are willing to evolve with us to ensure that the Festival continues to be a showcase of the arts, no matter the circumstances.”

Important Dates for the National Arts Festival Experience 2021

The programme for the Festival will be announced on June 7, 2021

The Standard Bank Presents showcase takes place in various cities from June 17 to July 4
The National Arts Festival’s Makhanda Live will take place in Makhanda from July 8-18
The Online National Arts Festival takes place during the month of July on the Festival website   

Follow the National Arts Festival:

Twitter: @artsfestival
Instagram: @nationalartsfestival
Subscribe to the National Arts Festival newsletter Media contact: Sascha Polkey 083 414 0552   

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