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Meet the team behind the Festival’s new virtual market

Published on 3 June 2020

Three strong-willed women keep the Village Green wheels turning. This year, without the sawdust and tents, Director Selina White and her assistants Clarissa Carolus and Rene Engelbrecht, are polishing their online skills to help create digital stalls for the crafters, creators and resellers that have become part of the NAF family over the years. They look forward to welcoming new traders to the fold – as well as showing the audience around the Virtual Green.

Selina White

Selina White has been the Director of the Village Green for an incredible 21 years. Having recently bought a house in Plettenberg Bay, she has spent the last few weeks figuring out the vagaries of Zoom and playing cards and dice with her daughter who was out from the UK when lockdown struck.

You must have seen some changes over the years but this year is really different!
There have been many changes over the past 21 years, demonstrating the versatility of the Village Green to deliver a stimulating experience. This year is no different and the Virtual Green will showcase many Festival-goers’ favourites as well as introduce some exciting new products.

What will you miss most about the Village Green – and what are you looking forward to in the Virtual one?
I always love the excitement of setup and building the ‘Village’ every year – there is such a buzz in the air, such anticipation of the approaching Festival. I’ll miss the smells of the food court, the interaction with crafters, and the buzz of the buskers. But, having said that, to me, the Virtual Green will be just as exciting – a new and very different experience that will offer a patchwork of new crafts in these beautiful digital ‘stalls’. Importantly as well, it means that our regular crafters will have somewhere to showcase their wares.

I’m sure Festival-goers will support the traders at the Virtual Green, but what would you say to those who are still sitting on the fence?
Get off that fence! Online shopping is part of our future so let’s get busy browsing! It’s not going to be the same but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be an exciting experience and well worth a visit. Come along, your sheepskin slippers are waiting!

Rene Engelbrecht

Rene Engelbrecht has been with the Festival since 2014. During lockdown, she took full advantage of her Kindle Unlimited subscription, devouring as many books as possible and… she also discovered that gardening is definitely not her forte!

Do you have a favourite stall at the Green?
I couldn’t pick a favourite! Every crafter and stall has its own unique outlook on the products they make and sell so I really enjoy bits and pieces of all of them!

What’s the best thing about your job?
The different people I get to meet and work with has to be my favourite thing about my job. To see people from different cultures, backgrounds and from all walks of life coming together to create something spectacular once a year is an absolute joy to experience.

What are you looking forward to in the Virtual Green?
I am looking forward to seeing how this new platform will expose many more to the magic that happens every year during the National Arts Festival.

Clarissa Carolus

Clarissa Carolus is celebrating her 10th year at the Festival. During the past two months, she’s been wrangling her two children into doing their homework and herself into getting fit with (beginner) home workouts!

Do you have a favourite Village Green item?
Oh no – not just one – loads of them! I love to visualise having a stall of my own and filling it with all the amazing things I’ve seen at the Village Green over the past decade.

What’s the best part of your job?
Definitely the actual 11 days of Amazing, where you welcome back old traders, and meet new ones, and continue building work related relationships.

What’s your wish for the 2020 Festival?
The stallholders are all like family to me so, for 2020, my only wish is that they make a massive amount of sales, and that those who will be creating online shops for the first time have the best possible experience as part of the Virtual National Arts Festival.