Grahamstown festival ticket sales up despite World Cup

2010-06-29 00:00

THE National Arts Festival in Grahamstown announced on Monday that a seven percent increase in ticket sales has been achieved, despite worries that the World Cup might detract from the arts festival.

“Given that the country is in the middle of staging a massive global sporting event which is, quite rightly, occupying lots of media and public attention, it is heartening to see that our country’s artists can still hold their own and that theatre goers are supporting them,” chief executive officer, Tony Lankester, said.

Although the first few days of the festival were slow, Lankester said that there was a strong lift in ticket sales as the weekend approached. The staging of World Cup games in Port Elizabeth has also prompted increased interest from international media, while football fans have headed down to Grahamstown to catch some culture.

Lankester said that ballet and music shows on the main programme had sold well, as had Durban actor Neil Coppen’s Tree Boy, and English ventriloquist and comedian Paul Zerdin’s shows, while over on the Fringe productions such as London Road, Breed, Stilted, Decadence and Karoo Moose were among the top 20 grossing productions at the festival this year.

Lankester is confident that the second half of the festival will continue to attract audiences, adding that some productions have already sold out.

“Jazz performances by Judith Sephuma and Oliver Mtukudzi, together with Songs of Migration, featuring Sibongile Khumalo and Hugh Masekela, are helping to ensure a strong closing weekend. There is also plenty of great theatre and dance on the way — Dada Masilo’s Swan Lake, The Football Diaries, Richard III and Athol Fugard’s Hello and Goodbye should all get audiences talking,” he said.

Another aspect of the festival that is keeping audiences happy is the abundance of free performances.

“Increasingly audiences are looking for a mix of entertainment, not just formal theatre, music and dance, but also work that livens the streets of Grahamstown and that brings an energy to the event.

“We’ve included local and international work on our street theatre programme this year, all of which is adding to the festive atmosphere around Grahamstown,” Lankester said.

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