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SA and France: inspired collaborators

Published on 21 June 2016

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the partnership between the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) and the National Arts Festival. Since 1996, more than 40 productions across all genres supported by IFAS have been presented in Grahamstown as part of a dynamic and inspiring partnership. During the France-South Africa Seasons 2012-2013, a significant programme of highly acclaimed French artists and productions were presented at the National Arts Festival.

The 2016 edition of the Festival will highlight the strong bonds of collaboration, dialogue and mutual understanding between our two institutions and also between the artists of our two countries. It will include the inter-medial performance Les Cenci: A Story about Artaud by Gopala Davies, a piano recital by Ammiel Bushakevitz, concerts with French accordionist Daniel Mille at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival, in partnership with the Alliance Française, and a talk about Matisse as part of the Think!Fest programme, before the opening of the exhibition in Johannesburg on 12 July 2016.

As part of the National Lottery Fringe Festival, Theatre Thump! from Bordeaux, France, in association with ASSITEJ SA, will give a series of workshops as part of the French-South African creative arts project, “My partner, my audience and I…”, a continued theatre educational project initiated in Mpumalanga, South Africa in February 2015. The company will also present visual and musical street performances of the public art shows Flowers of Silence and Lenyalo.


  • Ammiel Bushakevitz – Songs without Words from Three Generations
    Piano Recital
    Beethoven Room
    Sunday 3 July  – 19:00 / Tuesday 5 July  – 15:00
    Duration: 1hr 30min (Incl. 10min interval); Age Restriction: 12+
    Tickets: Full price R70 | Concessions R65
  • Les Cenci: a Story about Artaud – Directed by Gopala Davies
    Intermedial performance
    Cast: Fiona Ramsay, Cassius Davids, Charlie Bouguenon, Macmillan Mabaleka, Martin Van Heerden
    Victoria Theatre
    Monday 4 July – 20:00 / Tuesday 5 July – 10:00 & 20:00 / Wednesday 6 July – 10:00 & 16:00
    Duration: 1hr (no interval); Age recommendation: 16+
    Tickets: Full price R75 | Concessions R70
  • Daniel Mille at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival
    Cape to Calais
    Daniel Mille (accordion – FR), Stéphane Chausse (clarinet- FR), David Ledbetter (guitar), Hein van de Geyn (bass – NE)
    DSG Auditorium – Friday 1 July – 19:00
    Tickets: R80
  • Mille / Chausse
    Daniel Mille (accordion – FR), Stéphane Chausse (clarinet- FR)
    DSG Auditorium – Saturday 2 July 19:00
    Tickets: R80

About us

The National Arts Festival is an important event on the South African cultural calendar, and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent.

Starting at the end of June/beginning of July, it runs for 11 days and is held in the small university city of Grahamstown, which is situated in the Eastern Cape, 130 km from Port Elizabeth.

The Festival consists of a Main and Fringe programme both administered by the National Arts Festival Office. The Festival is reliant on sponsorship, with the core funders and partners being National Lotteries Commission, the Department of Arts and Culture, Eastern Cape Provincial Government, M-Net and Standard Bank of South Africa.

The programme comprises drama, dance, physical theatre, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art exhibitions, film, student theatre, street theatre, lectures, craft fair, workshops, tours (of the city and surrounding historic places) and a children’s arts festival.

The event has always been open to all regardless of race, colour, sex or creed. As no censorship or artistic restraint has ever been imposed on works presented in Grahamstown, the Festival served as an important forum for political and protest theatre during the height of the apartheid era, and it still offers an opportunity for experimentation across the arts spectrum. Its significance as a forum for new ideas and an indicator of future trends in the arts cannot be underestimated.

As the cultural agency of the French Embassy in South Africa, IFAS-Culture organises artistic events throughout the country all year round. Events organised and supported by IFAS take place in venues and festivals throughout the country, allowing the Institute to establish relationships with various South African partners. As part of its mission, IFAS-Culture encourages cultural diversity and exchanges between South Africa, France and the rest of the African continent by supporting artistic events ranging from contemporary dance, theatre, puppetry and fashion shows to music, DJ nights, contemporary art exhibitions and literature.

More information

Sascha Polkey – PR to the National Arts Festival
021 300 0052 – 083 414 0552

Claire Métais – Cultural project manager, IFAS
011 403 0458 / 073 616 7193