A central concern within the artistic direction of the festival is the artist and their work: caring for their trajectory and their vision. The Makhanda project has been an opportunity for the festival to turn its attention inwards, to work with a selection of Makhandian artists in considering their work, sometimes anew, using film or digital approaches for online platforms. There is of course no one way, there is only an openness to experiment, learn, share, support and challenge each other, and this is where the basis for the Makhanda Project rests. In response to our artists’ propositions, the Makhanda Project paired experienced artists (mentors) in other parts of South Africa together with local artists to provide the opportunity to share practice, approach, strategy and experience, to exchange perspectives and provide critical engagement between peers so necessary in the creation of strong artistic work. Each Makhandian artist challenged themselves and took their practice into new directions, in conversation and consultation with their mentors, resulting in six new works available for viewing through the National Arts Festival website.
The National Arts Festival, through a breath of projects from the Makhanda Project and the festival itself, plays a role in instigating new relationships and inquiry across contexts in our inescapably interconnected world. The Makhanda Project planted seeds for new perspectives, relationships, and artistic pursuits coming out of the town which has hosted the festival for all these years.