The NAF successfully transitioned into an online festival in 2020, drawing a global audience of over 83 000 visitors and breaking new ground for the South African arts sector. “Online experiences are here to stay and we are excited about further integrating this element into our offering,” says Newton.
The National Arts Festival’s decision to present work in other cities was founded on the realization that some audiences may not be willing or able to travel far and that many artists would struggle to afford the costs of travel to Makhanda as a result of the impact of the pandemic. “Our new showcase, Standard Bank Presents will give people a taste of the National Arts Festival and a window into what our artists are thinking and doing. As we adapt to our ever-shifting Covid reality, we need to try new things and imagine new ways for the arts to speak to audiences,” says Newton.
Newton said the Festival was realistic about the capacity of audiences and artists to travel to the Festival in Makhanda but pointed out that the Festival’s Eastern Cape visitors accounted for 55 % of their pre-Covid attendance figures in 2019*. This points to the likelihood of the live event in Makhanda largely attracting day-trippers and weekenders, and of course the Super Fans; the ardent group of festival-goers who have already signalled their intention to support the live performances, no matter where they are.