South African Cultural Observatory

National Arts Festival Provides Much Needed Economic Stimuli For Makhanda

BY 04.07.19

For people of Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), life is busier than most other times during this period of the year. This is because the town is teeming with multitudes of artists and visitors from all over the world who come to attend the annual National Arts Festival. This year, the 45th Festival is said to have attracted over 200 000 visitors, 2000 performers and showcased over 600 events both in the fringe and main programmes. For a small university town, it was a hive of activity with a significant economic impact.

With a very rich history, the Festival has been a launch pad to careers of many celebrated South African artists. It is a platform where many stakeholders interact and network, where many creative concepts are birthed and inspired. The National Arts Festival is regarded as an important event on the South African cultural calendar, and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent.

The Festival provides a much needed economic stimulus to the economy of Makhanda, providing temporary and long term employment opportunities to both locals and people from the Eastern Cape province. In previous years the event was estimated to contribute well over R350 million to the town and province. As a sector and the country, it is an event we should be proud of. We should encourage all involved in its organisation to do their best to ensure that it keeps getting better and grows bigger to employ even more people, particularly the youth.

This year the Festival ran over a period of 11 days 27 June – 7 July 2019.

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