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Welcome return for much-loved arts festival

Setting up of the Village Green at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda was in full swing on Wednesday before the launch of the festival on Thursday.
GETTING READY: Setting up of the Village Green at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda was in full swing on Wednesday before the launch of the festival on Thursday.
Image: Annelisa Swana

And finally, SA’s premier arts festival is back in the format we have come to know and love over the past five decades.

The 48th instalment of the annual National Arts Festival hosted in Makhanda kicked off this week after two years of the festival hosting performers and artists online due to Covid-19.

With more than 250 productions, exhibitions, talks and workshops on offer, organisers are promising an event to remember.

And memorable it will be.

That the start of the festival coincided with the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions including the wearing of masks and limits on the number of people allowed in one venue is cause for extra celebration, and it symbolises a return to a pre-Covid normality. 

Certain venues were now able to operate at full capacity after the news that the remaining Covid-19 restrictions were no longer in place, National Arts Festival board member Dr Siphiwo Mahala said at the launch.

Additional tickets would be made available for shows which had been sold out, with further details still to be released.   

“This is a celebration of artists and the arts for everyone to enjoy,” Mahala said.

Festival CEO Monica Newton said they were “really hoping for a return to the exuberance of the live experience”.

“What we really hope audiences will experience this year is the National Arts Festival back loud and proud,” she said. 

Of course the festival would not be complete without the integral Village Green, home to a host of traders, food vendors and artists.

A regular at the Village Green for more than 20 years, Gqeberha’s Ronel Coertze, who sells sterling silver jewellery, said she was excited about having a stall at the festival after a two-year hiatus.

But more than being an 11-day event to celebrate artists and the arts, we hope the return of the popular festival heralds the revival of the arts sector in SA, a sector — like many others — that has been hard hit by the pandemic and the restrictions that came with it. 

HeraldLIVE

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