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The 2021 National Arts Festival Closes on a High Note with Standard Bank Ovation Awards

Published on 31 July 2021

Mommy Mommy. NAF 2021. Photo by Mark Wessels
Let My Love be Heard. NAF 2021. Photo by Mark Wessels.

The National Arts Festival officially winds up at midnight today after a month-long digital feast of the arts that saw dance, music, performance, visual art, jazz, comedy, children’s theatre, illusion, discussion and more on its digital Festival platform. The event culminated in a celebration of the new and exciting shows that debuted at this year’s Fringe Live and won Standard Bank Ovation Awards.

The Fringe is an independent platform on the Festival to which anyone can bring a show and sees a mix of seasoned performers, emerging artists and experimental events that together form the seed of South Africa’s future arts. After eighteen months of curtailed opportunities and restricted revenues, the Festival anticipated a smaller Fringe in 2021 – but it remained robust with 125 productions going to screen.

The Standard Bank Ovation Awards recognise the best of the Fringe – works that stand out for a variety of reasons that make a lasting impression on the judges, from being an audience pleaser to showcasing talent and technical skill. Standard Bank Ovation Awards are awarded throughout the Festival and works that have been awarded bear the Ovations stamp on their digital windows as a signal to audiences that they are watching an award winner.

At the close of the Festival, the awards  emerge from this pool and receive Gold, Silver or Bronze Standard Bank Ovation Award recognition. This year’s Gold, Silver and Bronze winners are:

GOLD Award

The Shack by Totem Productions

Gone but not Forgotten by Gowar Creative Hub


Initiation by Is’Thatha Dance Project

Verloren by Spark in the Dark

The Core by AFDA Johannesburg

Wet & Dry by Cia Paraladosanjos

Mobile Inertia by Siphumeze Khundayi

Ruth by Love and Race Productions

Torinaoshi by Tsukuba Indy (LLC)

(extra) ordinary, (un) usual by F Creations

Old Soul Waiting by Mabu Art Foundation

Buya by Mathetha Dances


DE|COMPOSITION by Response-Ability/Revolution Movement

Dear Donald, Dear Hillary (Their Secret Correspondence) by Sally Vahle

The Joy of Symphonic Music – Concert 2 by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lykele Temmingh

Umhlaba Ophezulu/Higher Ground by Iva Collective

Liminal – Documentary by Joy Film Productions

Dipalo_The Audio Version by Assitej SA

Acapella Street Corners by Chamber Ensemble

Initiation - Is’Thatha Dance Project. NAF 2021. Photo by Mark Wessels.

Gold Standard Bank Ovation winners are awarded a cash prize of  R 10 000, Silver Standard Bank Ovation Award winners are given R 5 000 and Bronze Standard Bank Ovation Award winners take home R 2 500.

The 2021 panel was convened by Princess Mhlongo who said, “As a former Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year and Ovation Winner, it has truly been a great honour to be part of the Standard Bank Ovations team as coordinator of the winners’ selection process. It has been a trying time in the world but seeing the fight and determination in the work presented by artists speaks volumes for the future of the arts in our country. A huge congratulations to the NAF team for being consistently present and continuing to be the voice of the artists. It is never an easy task choosing the best out of a pool of outstanding works representing change and progress, however, this year displayed courage that I believe will bring forth hope for those who may still need the strength to go on”.

National Arts Festival Fringe Platform to Remain Open till end of August 2021 

Speaking at the Awards, National Arts Festival Fringe Manager, Zikhona Monaheng, announced that the Fringe Live platform would remain open until the end of August. The Fringe would also be accepting new works for the month of August and artists need to apply to participate via There is no registration fee for new works and the Festival would continue to offer a 90% split on ticket revenue in favour of the artists. New Fringe works would not, however be considered for Standard Bank Ovation Awards

Standard Bank Extends its Support of Artists

Long-time Festival partners, Standard Bank, recognised that it was a particularly tough year for artists and launched an exciting participatory campaign to support artists at the Festival. The Bank of Dreams calls for members of the public to submit messages of support for artists to an online portal. Each message is backed by real cash from Standard Bank with the goal of harvesting 3 700 messages to match the 37 years Standard Bank has partnered with the National Arts Festival. The accumulated cash value of the 3 700 messages would be R 500 000 which would then be distributed to the artists on the National Arts Festival Fringe this year. Arts lovers can visit to dedicate their message and get behind the Fringe artists.

Speaking at the event, Desiree Pooe, Head of Sponsorships for Standard Bank reminded audiences of the incredible challenges artists have overcome to perform at this years’ Festival, not to mention the short timelines, “Artists, and others in the background were made to build the proverbial plane in flight, the challenges, dedication and sacrifices do not go unnoticed.” Pooe said that, “Since introducing the Standard Bank Ovation Awards in 2010, they have been instrumental in spotlighting the stand out talent on the Fringe and have contributed to propelling the careers of many artists and productions who have received them.” Pooe congratulated all the winners of 2021 Standard Bank Ovation Awards.

The event was staged virtually and streamed from Makhanda where some of this year’s Fringe works were also filmed. Guests were entertained by local performers Makhanda Kwantu Choir and singer Nombasa. A recording of the event can be watched below.