NELSON Mandela Bay Municipality will hold the inaugural Mandela Bay Cultural Festival from Friday this week. The R5 million four-day festival, aimed at exposing the immense arts and cultural talents of the youth of Nelson Mandela Bay, will take place at different venues including Vuyisile Mini Square, PE Opera House, Athenaeum, Rooftop, the Art Galleries and local museums. “We’re holding the Mandela Cultural Arts Festival during Mandela Month, giving the youth an opportunity to use their talents in line with the creative economy pillar that we’ve identified for economic development,” said executive mayor Dr Danny Jordaan at the launch of the festival last week. He added that the festival had been planned for the past three years, and was not an election ploy as others would like to believe.“Economic growth is paramount if the metro municipality wants to fulfil the mandate of bringing a better life for all the residents,” he said.He added that had Grahamstown not started the Festival that now was making millions of rands for the GDP, we would not be talking about it. The same, he said, was the case with the Kirkwood Biltong Festival and the Cape Town Jazz Festival. Arts and Recreation Executive Director Noxolo Nqwazi said 60% of the budget was spent on the youth – viewed in the metro as the vulnerable sector, and 95% of the total budget would be paid to local artists and SMMEs.Residents would be able to enjoy 34 performances of all music genres, dance forms, comedy, poetry and visual arts among others. From this year onwards, Nqwazi said, the winter season in the metro municipality would never be seen as a dead-end. She said it was time for the people of the metro to light it up and attract investment through its creative industries.