The organisers of the 2020 National Arts Festival have announced that this year’s edition “will not be cancelled – but it will be different.” The festival will go down in history as the first-ever virtual edition.
Based on the ban on major events, and travel recommendations with regard to travel and the use of public transport, the annual arts festival was unable to proceed in a traditional manner.
But by going virtual the festival can continue to support artists and the arts in 2020, by presenting work within a digital space.
In a statement released on Tuesday 17th of March, Monica Newton, CEO of the National Arts Festival, said:
“The National Arts Festival 2020 won’t be cancelled, but it will be different. We at the National Arts Festival have been worrying, thinking, worrying, arguing and thinking some more about what we do about the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe in relation to our very special annual festival.
The festival will completely run virtual for the full 11 days from June 25 to July 5 2020.
“Going virtual will mean that the Festival can continue to support artists and the arts in 2020, by presenting work within a digital space. This way, we can share some magic and hope with those who may still be confined to their homes. An opportunity to connect when we are being asked to distance ourselves from one another.”
“Artists depend on festivals like ours to generate an income through selling tickets, getting their work seen and talked about locally and internationally, and networking with their peers. Rather than cancel, we aim to create a new opportunity for artists and audiences alike to celebrate the arts, and to create an accessible platform for artists to share their work.”
As we face the possibility of a large number of people soon being cut off from each other, The National Arts Festival labels their decision as “absolutely responsible” in combatting the spread of Covid-19, while still connecting people.
Regarding economic stability, the statement says: “We know how much income our festivals contribute to the infrastructure and economy of Makhanda. We remain committed to the city and will continue to play our role as good corporate citizens.”
The National Arts Festival (NAF) is an annual festival of performing arts in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), South Africa. It is the largest arts festival on the African continent and one of the largest performing arts festivals in the world by visitor numbers.