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 across the globe. 2020 brought with it a new challenge – Covid-19. Felt across the globe the pandemic left no element of human life untouched. Artists and all of those involved in this world, felt the effect of a world in lockdown. It was with this in mind that we pivoted the National Arts Festival into a purely digital event that could be accessed from anywhere in the world.
It was a massive challenge, but it has allowed us to broaden what we do going forward. The 2021 edition of the National Arts Festival includes three elements. Makhanda Live (a smaller but no less impactful live festival), an Online Festival, and Standard Bank Presents, a limited series of shows happening in cities around South Africa.
As always, the programme includes drama, dance, physical theatre, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art exhibitions, film, student theatre, street theatre, lectures, a craft fair and workshops.
Transformation and keeping apace with the artists who make the Festival unique and distinctive every year is complex, difficult, rewarding and exciting. Crucially though, this allows us to stay relevant, to stay sustainable and to still feel like home to the artists we work with, transformation is not negotiable.
Here’s to not becoming history! And to finding creative ways to be heard, to listen, to heal, to understand and to make meaning.