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50 Years of the National Arts Festival


In 2024 the National Arts Festival marks 50 amaz!ng years of providing a platform for experimentation, protest, collaboration, celebration and expression.

The National Arts Festival has been collectively created by thousands of artists, performers, producers, actors, directors, stagehands, curators, technical crew, stallholders, entrepreneurs, creators, staff, board members and partners – and it would have been nothing without our audience. We have our generous sponsors to thank for keeping the spirit of the National Arts Festival alive, affording us the privilege of creating extraordinary works that continue to reflect the shifts of the artistic landscape not only in South Africa but around the world.


Sundowner Concert in the Monument Photo by Jan Potgieter
Little Red Riding Hood photo by Mark Wessels

Shaping Together

The Festival has deep roots in Makhanda, within South Africa’s motherland – the Eastern Cape. As one of the most diverse annual celebrations of the arts on the African continent, the National Arts Festival’s importance as a space for artists and audiences to come together, engage and create unique cultural experiences cannot be underestimated.

Today, the Festival continues to provide space for work that interrogates the country and world we live in and expresses the viewpoints of diverse communities locally and globally. Through the lens that the arts offer, we are better equipped to understand the world, and our place in it, finding meaning and personal transformation.

Our programme for 2024 champions innovation and excellence in the arts including drama, dance, physical theatre, comedy, music, jazz, exhibitions, and so much more. We also have backup power to ensure that the show will go on in the event of loadshedding.

As we jointly commemorate 30 years of South African democracy, 40 years of the Standard Bank Young Artist Awards, and 50 years of the National Arts Festival, 2024 presents an opportunity to reflect on the past and evaluate how we can shape our collective futures. Let’s listen, learn, heal, understand, make meaning, transform our outlooks, and create exceptional art.

Here’s to an amaz!ing 2024 National Arts Festival!