Festival opens: The National Arts Festival –hybrid edition – is on from today, June 17, 2021 – in cities around South Africa

 The National Arts Festival 2021 – hybrid Diary- key dates

The Standard Bank Presents showcase – June 17 to July 4 – Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Gqeberha
The National Arts Fesival’s Makhanda Live – July 8-18 in Makhanda
The National Arts Festival Online – during the month of July on the Festival website https://nationalartsfestival.co.za 

Bookings: for the National Arts Festival 2021 in Makhanda and online, will be live from 21 June.       

The National Arts Festival’s home base is in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown- the festival is still often referred to as The Grahamstown Festival). In response to Covid and lockdown, in 2020, the festival (NAF) was presented online – as the vNAF – with shows streaming from its dedicated platform. No events were held in Makhanda. Most shows were available as VOD (video on demand), also referred to as pay-per-view. Some shows, webinars and other events were streamed live on platforms like Zoom and WhatsApp were only available in real time. There were instances of live offerings being recorded. A few months ago, after receiving feedback from artists and audiences, it was decided to roll out the 2021 NAF as a hybrid- with on-stage shows in cities around the country under the banner of #StandardBankPresents; a physical in-person festival in Makhanda #TheNationalArtsFestivalMakhandaLive (adhering to Covid safety regulations, reduced seating, sanitising, masks etv) and then an online festival (July).

When the plans were put in place for on-stage/live, Covid numbers were relatively stable. Today, June 17, 2021, with the launch of #StandbankPresents, sadly we are in our 3rd wave, with Covid rates climbing. On Tuesday (June 15), our President conducted a national “family meeting” and announced amendments to lockdown – which included limits to indoor gatherings (50 indoors maximum). Curfew was shifted. Today, as the NAF opens its on-stage programme, #StandardBankPresents in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), the situation is that everything is subject to change –at the last minute. The safety of patrons and artists is priority. If a person involved in a show- artist, producer, events person tests positive for Covid and has been contact with the company, that show cannot continue and the NAF will be in touch with ticket holders to advise what happens next- if a postponement is possible or if an alternative show may be staged instead.  This is a developing story. Check back with TheCapeRobyn for updates. A festival WhatsApp line will be supplied soon so that patrons will be alerted to any changes to on stage programming. This is a time of extreme challenges. Bravo to the NAF, its sponsors such as Standard Bank and others who are making the festival possible. Artists are creating and looking to the future. Audience support is essential – in-person and online. Support the NAF by being present – in person and/or online.

Info about for #StandardBankPresents programme: https://mailchi.mp/d3c36b401647/nationalartsfestivalexperience-944844?e=108bb064d8

Mandisi Dyantyis will be on the programme at the Cape Town edition of Standard Bank Presents- June 19, 2021 at 44 On Long.
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❇ Sponsored content. Featured image- Judith Sephuma will perform her show live on stage in Johannesburg. Images supplied.