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Explained: New pathways to the NAF Fringe

Published on 29 August 2019

Given the tough broader arts environment that artists are operating in, the challenges of Makhanda as well as the heavy cost of staging the Fringe, we’re looking at revising the way the National Arts Festival Fringe works.

The aims of the proposed new model are:

  • A Fringe that is more viable for artists
  • A Fringe that makes more sense to audiences and has 
a mix of ‘safe bets’ while retaining the 
‘sense of discovery’ that makes the Fringe unique
  • A Fringe that has a clearer direction and is a stronger offering for visiting producers

WATCH: A short explainer video about the proposed new model for the Fringe
DOWNLOAD: A handy infographic about the new pathways to participate in the NAF Fringe [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][PDF]

New pathways to participate

No. of productions Categories Box Office Split

Ovation Award Winners

Winners of a Standard Bank Ovation Award 
will be invited to return to the Fringe
 with their winning production. Any unused slots will be allocated to the lottery (see below).


Institutions, independent producers & collectives

Independent producers and collectives can apply to bring
 between 3 and 7 productions, produced and
 marketed under a single banner. One third of the productions must be new works.

75 + 20 ‘newcomers’ = 95


All the rest of the applicants go into a random lottery draw for the remaining places on the Fringe. At least 20 of these lottery slots will be allocated to ‘newcomers’ (ie at least 66% of the creative team will not have participated in the Fringe previously). 20 further productions will be drawn and put on a stand-by list, in the event of cancellations.

(100% for newcomers)

NAF Selection

After the lottery draw, the NAF office will make a further selection from the remaining applicants to achieve genre and geographical balance.

200 Total number of productions on the Fringe (compared to 280 in 2019)

Box Office Split

All productions will have 8% of the gross box office deducted for ticketing costs. The splits represented alongside each category above are calculated after this deduction.

Who is a ‘newcomer’

To qualify, we will look at the complete creative team behind the production – including director, choreographer, performers, writers and designers. To be categorised as a ‘newcomer’, at least 66% of the creative team will not have participated in the Fringe previously. We know there will be a lot of grey areas, but we will use our best judgment in making the final assessment.

Venue costs and registration fees

All productions will pay venue hire costs and registration fees, as always. But prices in 2020 will be frozen at 2019 levels.

Visual arts and Film

Visual arts and those wanting to screen films on the Fringe will be unaffected by the new model and may register as they have done previously.


  • 15 October 2019 – 15 January 2020: Fringe applications open
  • 22 January 2020: Announcement of participating independent producers, institutions and collectives
  • 27 January 2020: Lottery draw. Note: An additional 20 ‘standby’ productions will be drawn. If one of the participating productions failed to confirm they are taking up their slot, or doesn’t pay their registration fees on time, it will be offered to the standby productions in the order that they were drawn.
  • 3 February 2020: Announcement of NAF selection
  • 14 February 2020: All productions to pay registration fee and venue hire deposit
  • 19 February 2020: Unfilled slots offered to standby productions.

We’re listening

This new model is for artists, so we’d love to know what you think. We welcome constructive comments and suggestions. Email us on, join Artists at the National Arts Festival on Facebook and leave a comment there, or tweet us on @artsfestival.