Grahamstown National Arts Festival promises thrills on its 40th anniversary

AUGUST 1, 2014

Expect to be thrilled and entertained when international and national artists descend on Grahamstown, in the Makana Local Municipality, for the annual Grahamstown National Arts Festival, which is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. The 2014 edition will be held from the 3rd to the 13th of July.

Earlier this year, festival organisers announced a main programme which will feature the work of 65 former Standard Bank Young Artist Award winners; artists from 26 countries; over 550 performances in theatre, dance, the performing arts and music; nine specially commissioned music works; musicians with more than 40 South African Music Awards and three Grammy Awards under their belt, and an ambitious ‘Creation of a Nation’ project.

 “It is a bold programme, which veers between the extravagant and the intimate as it attempts to reflect on major milestones – of the Festival, of the Young Artist Awards and of South Africa, in our 20th year of democracy,” Artistic Director, Ismail Mahomed, said.

“This year our artists have risen to the triple-anniversary challenge with some extraordinary proposals that we are excited to bring to life.”

Balancing the main programme is the vast and exciting Fringe, supported primarily by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.

“The Fringe, also celebrating an anniversary as it is presented for the 35th time, continues to grow as South Africa’s biggest open access platform – hundreds of productions bring their talent to Grahamstown and fill theatres with their work across every conceivable genre,” Mahomed said.

Spanning the Fringe and the main programme is the increasingly popular arena programme, which showcases the work of previous Standard Bank Ovation Award winners as well as award-winning work from other festivals around the world – including the Amsterdam, Prague and the Adelaide Fringe Festivals. The Thinkfest programme has an international flavour too. It will feature a recording of two panel discussions by the BBC World Service for broadcast globally to the service’s estimated 180 million listeners. Two awards initiatives launched in 2013 – the Short Sharp Stories Award for fiction writing, and the Arts Journalist of the Year Award, in partnership with Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) – return this year with the announcement of the winners of both these awards.

For families, the festival has a specially crafted family fare programme featuring the international Chicago Children’s Choir, the Children’s Arts Festival, the Oatlands Family Venue, Peter and the Wolf – a children’s concert played by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, Splash and a Fingo Festival, which will be held in Grahamstown’s Joza Township. “We’re also featuring, on our arena programme, one of the world’s best beatboxers – Tom Thum – in collaboration with musician Jamie MacDowell, which will appeal to the whole family,” Mahomed said.

Bookings for the 2014 National Arts Festival opened on the 9th of May and can be made online at www.nationalartsfestival.co.za