Chit Chat – Desiree Pooe

2011-10-14 07:16

MTN and Montecasino have embarked on an ambitious project that will see residents of Joburg’s chattering classes enjoy an unprecedented six-week festival – The Ayoba Festival, which kicks off on October 24. 7 spoke to Desiree Pooe, senior manager of sponsorship at MTN SA

Why do you feel the need for this festival?

We saw a need for a lifestyle and entertainment property that would appeal to the northern Johannesburg market. A festival that touches on most elements of entertainment from local and international theatre and music productions to art, film, comedy and more. When Montecasino approached us for a partnership to make the festival a reality, we realised that we both shared the same vision.

What’s going to make it different from the many other festivals in Joburg such as Arts Alive, the Joburg Festival and Soweto Festival?

The Ayoba Festival is different in three key areas – longevity, variety and appeal. It’s the only festival in the country which runs
for six consecutive weeks with such a wide variety of events and activities.

Don’t you think 42 days is rather long for a festival?

The rationale behind the 42 days is for everyone to experience the Ayoba Festival, considering the busy schedules that Gautengers have. Forty-two days is not long, but long enough to cater for everyone.

Is this sustainable in terms of activities?

Indeed. We have a full calendar with various entertainment opportunities. The events are not monotonous but are diverse in their offering for the young, old, conservative or extremist.

How will you maintain people’s interest?

The festival starts with comic relief in the form of John Cleese at The Teatro. Then for the first time in Johannesburg, the Oktober Bierfest will tantalise tastebuds of beer connoisseurs. MTN Joyous Celebration will stage a never-seen-before performance in November followed by the much anticipated Janet Jackson concert.

Why the focus on only black comedians for the Black Tie Comedy Festival?

The Black Pack of Comedy come in a package that offers five of the hottest black comedians in America. The Parkers Comedy Club will be running a series of comedy events throughout the Ayoba Festival that will feature comedians such as Chris Forrest, Tatz Nkonzo and Mel Miller to name a few.

What exactly is Cobra Day?

The AC Cobra is an Anglo-American sports car that was produced in the 1960s and has become an all-time favourite among vintage car enthusiasts. The Cobra Car Day will exhibit cool sporty lines, out of this world performance and extremely impressive V8 engines.

The Ayoba Festival is very broad. Don’t you think festivals need to be streamlined in order to appeal to a particular audience?

The festival is all about entertainment and that in itself is very broad because it crosses over music, lifestyle, arts, sport, film and theatre just to mention a few. We did not want to exclude elements that would sideline certain people.

Besides Joyous Celebration, are you planning on more musical acts?

Of course. Goldfish will perform in November and there’ll be a rock concert in December. Everybody
is talking about the Janet Jackson concert. The MTN Classic FM Soirees will be held in the ballroom.

What will the festival mean to the city in terms of tourism and economic development?

The sponsors’ long-term vision is to position the Ayoba Festival with your Grahamstown Festival and internationally, with the Spoletto Festival (in Italy and the US) in terms of awareness, impact and scale. If we achieve this, we will be able to encourage more tourists to the city and stimulate economic gain for the local arts industry.

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