Annual Grahamstown National Arts Festival under threat as coffers dry up: DA

OCTOBER 13, 2015

The Grahamstown Foundation, which is home to the annual National Arts Festival, is facing a financial catastrophe and its backup coffers have run dry, according to the Democratic Alliance (DA) Eastern Cape. 

"We need to do everything we can to save this iconic Eastern Cape institution, and its significant contribution to arts and culture, including the National Arts Festival, the National Science Festival (Scifest Africa), the National Schools Festival of the Arts and Creativity, the Eastern Cape Eisteddfod, the Amaphiko Township Dance Project, the National English Olympiad and the Makana Edutourism Project," appealed Ross Purdon, the DA's Shadow MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, in a statement.

The Foundation, based at the 1820 Settlers National Monument in Grahanstown is fully dependent on funding to maintain the building and to continue operations. 

"However, the annual Heritage Grant, received from the Department of Arts and Culture ceased without warning or consultation on 30 March 2011 when the 2010/2011 tranche was paid in arrears, the last grant payment being R2.8 million.

"The reality is that if this grant is not forthcoming the Foundation will be forced to close the institution and its projects," Purdon said.

"This will be tragic for Grahamstown, the Makana Municipality and the Eastern Cape. 

"This would also have a hugely negative impact on the arts and education as well as leading to devastating job losses not only at the Foundation, but the whole area.  Grahamstown survives on these festivals.  The Foundation plays a major role in improving our education system to enable more young South Africans to take advantage of opportunities."

He said that the Foundation and the Monument are vital to the Eastern Cape and we cannot afford to lose any precious jobs.

"I have written to Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture MEC Pemmy Majodina to approach the National Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, to urgently try and find a way forward.

"I also moved a motion in the National Council of Provinces on this matter two weeks ago," Purdon said.

"We trust that MEC [Pemmy] Majodina, who has always been a keen supporter of the arts, will use her powers to save our festival."