National Arts Festival makes joyful live return as Covid-19 restrictions are scrapped

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Performers at the official opening of the 2022 National Arts Festival. (Photo: Mark Wessels)
Performers at the official opening of the 2022 National Arts Festival. (Photo: Mark Wessels)

EVENT: The National Arts Festival


The mood was upbeat in Makhanda on Thursday as the 48th National Arts Festival opened its first live event in three years.

The festival started with the news that the government’s Covid-19 requirements on the wearing of masks and restricting events to 50% capacity were removed.

That meant that previously sold out shows for Amanda Black and Ringo Madlingozi were re-opened to accommodate 50% more seats.  

The opening day also saw local and national government representatives gathering in Makhanda to share their messages of support for the festival which is seen as a cultural treasure and big economic boost to the Eastern Cape.

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula shared in the celebrations in a speech at the opening ceremony while also highlighting the devastating effects Covid-19 had on the arts industry.

MEC Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi, who was attending on behalf of the Eastern Cape Premier, called  the Eastern Cape "the creative home of South Africa", adding, “The amount of creative talent this province has produced remains unmatched. I will be the first to admit though that most of this talent leaves the province for greener pastures elsewhere.

“Our task as the government of the Eastern Cape, working together with various stakeholders, is to nurture and support this creative potential and position the Eastern Cape as truly the creative home of the country.”

Makhanda’s Executive Mayor, Yandiswa Vara speaks a
Makhanda’s Executive Mayor, Yandiswa Vara speaks at the 2022 National Arts Festival opening ceremony. (Photo: Mark Wessels)

Makhanda’s Executive Mayor, Yandiswa Vara, welcomed visitors to the city and noted the important role the arts played in promoting social cohesion and bringing people together for both the city and the country.

National Arts Festival CEO, Monica Newton said the scrapping of the compulsory Covid-19 restrictions is the biggest win for the arts and events industries and is a much-needed return to normal.

“Operating at 50% capacity was completely unsustainable for most festivals, theatres and sports events unless they passed the lost revenue onto the customer in the form of higher ticket prices - which would ultimately decrease access to only a small demographic.

“This good news is an auspicious start to the 2022 National Arts Festival and, we hope, the beginning of a much-needed rejuvenation of the arts.”  

The National Arts Festival is on until 3 July 2022. The programme and ticket bookings are available online.

National Arts Festival
Performers at the National Arts Festival's 2022 opening. (Photo: Mark Wessels)

ALSO READ: National Arts Festival is back with a fantastic programme

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