National Arts Festival Draws to a Close

The closing weekend of the National Arts Festival sees the 11-day long Festival end on a high note with top talent performing some highly anticipated acts. Amongst the big attractions are AKA (fresh from the USA) and The Muffinz who are returning to the Festival after their previous Standard Bank Ovation Award win and Arena performance. Standard Bank Jazz Festival favourites Simphiwe Dana, Ringo Madlingozi, Caiphus Semenya and Swing City will be sure to take Festival-goers into the small hours, whilst international flavour comes from Colombia’s Alvaro Meza.


Theatres are filling up fast for Scorched, the premier of 2016 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre, Jade Bowers' epic new work. Also pulling strong crowds are Sleepwalkingland (based on the novel by Mia Couto) and Neil Coppen’s adaptation of Animal Farm. Audiences can also book for a reimagining of Tennessee Williams' play The Day on Which a Man Dies and Popart’s Jemma Kahn in her new piece In Bocca Al Lupo, as well as Unveiled, starring South-African born Gulshan Mia who has come from the USA to perform the role.


Festival CEO, Tony Lankester said that ticket sales had remained consistent with last year’s numbers and that final sales would be revealed after the post-Festival tally was complete.  “In light of the current economy, the arts are proving extremely resilient and South Africans are still seeking out quality work at the National Arts Festival.”

A quick count on Thursday morning revealed that 600 shows had houses that were over 80% full. Commenting on this year’s programme, the last under outgoing Festival Artistic Director, Ismail Mahomed, Lankester said, “Feedback on the shows has been positive - every Festival of this nature will have its hits and its misses, and this one is no different, but the Main Theatre programme, particularly, has been very well received.” 



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The National Arts Festival is grateful to the National Lotteries Commission, the Department of Arts and Culture, Eastern Cape Provincial Government, M-Net and Standard Bank of South Africa.



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About National Arts Festival

The National Arts Festival is an important event on the South African cultural calendar and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent.

The 2017 National Arts Festival runs for 11 days from 29 June - 9 July and is held in the small university city of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, 130 km from Port Elizabeth.

The Festival consists of a Main and Fringe programme both administered by the National Arts Festival Office. The full programme comprises drama, dance, physical theatre, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art exhibitions, film, student theatre, street theatre, lectures, craft fair, workshops, tours (of the city and surrounding historic places) and a children’s arts festival.

The event has always been open to all regardless of race, colour, sex or creed. As no censorship or artistic restraint has ever been imposed on works presented in Grahamstown, the Festival served as an important forum for political and protest theatre during the height of the apartheid era, and it still offers an opportunity for experimentation across the arts spectrum. Its significance as a forum for new ideas and an indicator of future trends in the arts cannot be underestimated.

The National Arts Festival is grateful to the Department of Arts and Culture, Eastern Cape Provincial Government, M-Net and Standard Bank of South Africa.

National Arts Festival
National Arts Festival
PO Box 304
Grahamstown, Ec 6140
South Africa