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Nobesuthu Rayi, supreme multitasker

Published on 5 May 2018

Nobesuthu Rayi is Associate Producer at the National Arts Festival. Last year was her first Festival – but she’s always made it look like she’s been doing this her whole life. We asked her some questions about her job, which is a masterclass in multitasking…

What exactly do you do in your job?

As an associate producer, I identify and provide administrative support to [Executive Producer] Ashraf Johaardien and we work together on the main programme. We manage partnerships with embassies, do networking and we work with all other departments to mount a successful Festival. I provide support in convening the Ovation Awards panel. And I will be assisting in content producing for National Schools Festival [which overlaps with the end of the National Arts Festival, and brings together thousands of Grade 12 learners and their teachers from around the country].

What journey have you taken to get here?

I am the former artistic manager of PE Opera House. I took a decision to leave to broaden my horizons and work with the greater national and international arts fraternity. When this opportunity came my way, I grabbed it with both hands as it gives me exactly what I was looking for.

Why the arts?

The arts have always been the one thing that have looked and felt safe. Growing up in a neighbourhood with most of my friends attending affluent schools, the arts – from dance, music and drama – were the thing that did not set me apart from them.

Does art imitate life?

Art is life itself.

What is your stress snack of choice?

Chocolate is definitely a stress snack – not of choice. It always creeps up on me.

What does no one in the office know about you?

No one knows I’m actually very shy (I think).

What’s more important in an arts administration job: a sense of humour, a back-up drive, or an eagle-eye?

All the above are needed and are very crucial – but a back-up drive takes the cake.

What excites you about the Festival programme this year?

I’m very excited about the texture of work in this year’s programme. It’s an “artist expression” type of programme. Artists are breaking boundaries and are given a safe platform to do so. I’m happy to see quite a number of artists from the Eastern Cape on the Arena programme. Eastern Cape artists are very excited about bringing works to the Festival and trips are being planned to come and support their own. Lovechild, who is on the Arena, will be working with a choir from Grahamstown of young people and she has always wanted to do that. Gabrielle Goliath will be working with seven female vocalists from the Eastern Cape.

Can you give us five shows that you are looking forward to seeing?

I look forward to see Mamela Nyamza’s BLACK PRIVILEGE, Gabrielle Goliath’s  ELEGY, Mhlanguli George’s THEATRE IN THE BACKYARD, Mzokuthula Gasa’s AMAQHAWE and all the productions under STAGED.