Vrystaat Arts Festival wants more partners

2016-03-09 06:00

JUST like Aardklop and most of the South African arts festivals, the Vrystaat Arts Festival depends on sponsorships and ticket sales for its sustainability, but not exclusively.

The possible discontinuation of Aardklop has brought the viability of arts festivals like the one in Bloemfontein under the spotlight.

“Apart from the income generated from ticket sales and sponsorships, we also have the arts market and these three combined form about a third of our income,” says Ricardo Peach, director of the Vrystaat Arts Festival, regarding the festival.

Huge running costs, a significant decrease in ticket sales and sponsorships which have dried up, were the major causes that lead to Aardklop’s demise, a festival which had been an institution on the country’s festival calendar since 1998.

“In 2014 and 2015, our ticket sales were much the same, but we hope to see an increase this year,” Peach says.

According to him, he finds it difficult to convince sponsors to invest in the arts.

“We’d rather see an increase in sponsorships. We want to retain Afrikaans as the core of the festival, but strengthen it by involving other cultures and in doing so, further promote Afrikaans. Our sponsors see this.

“The diversification of the festival plays a major role in involving new sponsors, because many of them would not have joined if the festival were an exclusively Afrikaans festival. The sponsors are more like partners to us and are a part of the festival. They see what a difference their contribution makes.”

Something that also compensates for the lack of a main sponsor or major sponsorships is that the travel and accommodation expenses of many of the artists that perform here are covered by sponsorships from SA Express and hotels.

Venues are also made available free of charge by the University of the Free State (UFS), Pacofs and the Free State Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.

“Thanks to these three institutions, it was possible to bring three productions to the stage last year which we otherwise would not have been able to afford. Stuttafords also transports the sets of the productions for free. Actually, the whole community is involved by offering discounts on accommodation or even offering it for free, as well as other institutions that offer their services free of charge. There is a lot of goodwill involved. It is fantastic, without it we would not be able to continue.”

Peach says he hopes to attract more people from the north in particular by presenting a huge music festival during the event.

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