The National Arts Festival

The National Arts Festival

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The National Arts Festival is one of the most important event on the South African cultural calendar, and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent.

Starting on the 26th of June 2008 and ending on the 5th of July 2008 the festival is held in the small university city of Grahamstown, which is situated in the Eastern Cape, 130km from Port Elizabeth.

The National Arts Festival is South Africa’s cultural crucible where current trends and future directions in the arts can be observed. With the demise of but a handful of production houses the commissioning of new works and exhibitions by the National Arts Festival plays a vital role towards sustaining the growth of South African arts. It offers the established artist significant public exposure and unknown talent the opportunity for discovery. Many productions launched to acclaim in Grahamstown go on to have lengthy runs in other centres, and in this way the festival plays a crucial role in determining the nation’s arts diary.

With the Festival having become more varied with the passing years, today there is virtually no art form which is not represented with the major categories of craftart, student theatre, jazz, street theatre and a children’s arts festival being added to those above, it is at the cutting edge of cultural development in the country. Craft and book fairs, workshops and demonstrations also form part of the line-up.

Increasingly, the Festival has come to reflect the richness of South Africa’s cultural tapestry. Although English dominates, languages such as Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa are widely used; and a growing trend is the emergence of “collaborative” works that are examples of cultural synthesis.

The event has always been open to all regardless of race, colour, sex or creed. As no censorship or artistic restraint has ever been imposed on works presented in Grahamstown, the Festival served as an important forum for political and protest theatre during the height of the apartheid era. And it still offers an opportunity for experimentation across the arts spectrum. In the new South Africa, it has the potential to become the most important arts event of the African continent. Its significance as a forum for new ideas and an indicator of future trends in the arts cannot be underestimated.

The National Arts Festival has become the shopping mecca for national and international agents. It provides an opportunity for producers to see a selection of new works from around the country in a concentrated period. In recent years a great number of productions have been invited to tour internationally.

To see the best that South Africa has to offer in theatre, drama, comedy, music, live performance and culture, do not miss out on the National Arts Festival.

For more information see details alongside.

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