South African Cultural Observatory

National Arts Festival - It's a wrap!

BY 09.07.19

A sold-out performance by Freshlyground and a free parade through the streets of Makhanda on Sunday saw out the National Arts Festival, an 11-day cultural binge of arts and entertainment.

Organisers say it is too early to report back on ticket sales, but the overall impression is that the 2019 National Arts Festival was resilient in tough economic times and very well received by audiences.

On Saturday night, a ceremony was held to celebrate the winners of the Standard Bank Ovation Awards, which celebrate artistic innovation, excellence, the exploration of new performance styles and the courage to open new conversations at the National Arts Festival.

This year, the panel (who anonymously visit productions on the Fringe) comprised 28 members including artists, theatre practitioners, academics and other experts in the cultural field. Theatre-maker Mandisi Sindo was the convenor of this year’s panel, and he was joined by co-convenors Tara Notcutt and Nondumiso Msimang.

The Standard Bank Ovation Award ceremony honoured all the winners of Ovations recognised throughout the Festival’s run, and also named the winners of the prestigious Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards. Special awards were also given across numerous categories.

Winning an Ovation Award is considered an important mark of quality work and the accolade forms a pathway from the Fringe to the Arena programme for which Ovation winners are invited to submit works.

Says convenor Mandisi Sindo, “The National Arts Festival Fringe programme is and has always been the heart of the National Arts Festival. It gives platform and a space to all art practitioners from all art forms. The Fringe programme was made up of hundreds of productions across theatre, family fare, comedy, illusion, dance, contemporary music, music recital , poetry, visual art, film and physical theatre – some from the development phase of creation and others already in the professional spectrum.”

This year’s Fringe festival productions spoke strongly of the political and environmental issues that affect us all.

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