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NAF seeks to appoint Artistic Director

Published on 11 June 2019

The National Arts Festival (NAF) seeks to appoint a dynamic, highly networked Artistic Director on a 3-year fixed-term contract.

The ideal candidate should have a strong vision for the place of the arts in our evolving society, and the enthusiasm to take this Festival in an exciting new direction.

The National Arts Festival is an annual 11-day event that aims to showcase the best in South African talent across all genres.

The Artistic Director will guide and shape the NAF’s artistic programme, with overall responsibility for the formulation and implementation of the Festival’s Artistic Vision across the Curated Main, Selected Main, Arena and Fringe festivals as well as to input into our other year-round projects and Festivals.

Key Responsibilities

  1. Chair the National Arts Festival’s Artistic Committee. In that capacity they will:
    – Constitute the Committee by identifying and contracting curators across all genres
    – Oversee the process of developing the curated programme, in collaboration with specialist genre-curators, and sign off on all final selections.
  2. Brief the Artistic Committee on available budget, technical and venue resources and ensure that choices are aligned with those resources.
  3. Oversee the process of programme selections that enhance the overall offering of the Festival.
    Lead the process of selection from proposal stage through to contracting and implementation.

Skills and Experience

The candidate must:

  • Have a vision for the role that the National Arts Festival plays in the South African and African arts landscape;
  • Have a proven track record of curation and/or artistic direction, and lead a team towards realizing a clearly articulated vision;
  • Be well versed in at least two artistic disciplines;
  • Be able to translate concept and vision into programming;
  • Have an understanding of the relationship between audiences and ‘art works’;
  • Have been actively involved in issues of redress and transformation in the South African context;
  • Have occupied a senior artistic management position in a recognized institution for at least five years;
  • Be exceptionally well networked in the South African arts industry and have relationships with key institutions in the arts sector as well as with independent producers, companies and artists;
  • Have existing relationships with international festivals, embassies, funders and arts institutions;
  • Have a proven track record of curation and/or artistic direction, can lead a team towards realizing a clearly articulated vision.

Personal Attributes

The Artistic Director needs to:

  • Be a self-starter, able to work independently without direct day-to-day supervision;
  • Be focused on getting the job done effectively and efficiently;
  • Be curious and knowledgeable about artistic trends in the country, on the African continent and globally;
  • Be able to manage large budgets and take accountability for expenditure;
  • Work under pressure and tight deadlines;
  • Be a strong communicator and highly consultative in style;
  • Work as part of a diverse and energetic team;
  • Demonstrate resourcefulness and creativity in working within financial constraints; and
  • Contribute to the Festival’s fundraising activities through the identification of partnership opportunities.

Job Specifics

The Artistic Director role is a part-time position. Our current expectation is that the incumbent would be expected to commit a total of 80 hours (ten days) a month to the role. An additional 50 days a year would form part of the contract.

The incumbent may reside in either Johannesburg, Cape Town or Makhanda (Grahamstown) but would need to commit to working from Makhanda for 4-6 weeks in May and June each year.


Please apply by sending a current CV, outlining your formal qualifications and experience and with three contactable references. Please include a covering letter of no more than three typed pages, outlining what you believe you will bring to the role and articulating your artistic vision for the Festival.

Send applications to by no later than 16:00 on 24 June 2019. Only shortlisted candidates will be invited to an interview.

Employment Equity statement of intent

Employment Equity is not just a governance imperative for the National Arts Festival – it is a critical part of us being a Company that acknowledges, understands, reflects and celebrates the diversity of our country which, in turn, enables us to be the more effective and relevant in the work we do. And so we strive to make appointments that ensure that our team composition reflects that diversity.