My first trip to the National Arts Festival exceeded my expectations.
With only three days to do and see as much as I could, I thought, “for a first-time attendee”, three days would be sufficient. I was wrong as I later found out.
I, like other festival goers, was spoilt for choice with more than 700 shows and 2 000 performances being staged.
In the end I was able to see a variety of shows, including the amazing Kitty Phetla in the production Going Back to the Truth of Space, and Dumza Maswana’s Celebrating African Song – productions I thoroughly enjoyed.
The MultiChoice Live stand showcased the M-Net magic in Motion Academy, the MultiChoice Talent Factory Portal, upcoming local shows, talent interviews and performances. It was a huge hit. The MultiChoice Group became a proud partner of the arts festival this year.
With MultiChoice being about more than just entertainment but also “growth, authenticity and commitment to Africa’s culture, arts and spirit of community”, according to MultiChoice Group CEO for general entertainment Yolisa Phahle, “the National Arts Festival was the perfect initiative to drive this”.
The festival, now in its 45th year, contributes more than R370 million to the Eastern Cape’s GDP and boosts the local economy by R94 million each year, according to a 2016 impact study, making it a critical driver of the local economy.
According to Phahle, like the festival, MultiChoice invests in local content and talent development.
“Our investment not only creates a future talent pipeline that is critical to the future of the video entertainment industry but also places South African arts on a world stage,” she said.
“The National Arts Festival fosters and encourages authentic content creation by our people for our continent.”
Although the partnership only happened this year, Tony Lankester, the festival’s chief executive for the past 12 years, told City Press that M-Net had actually been involved for a number of years and had this year broadened its involvement through MultiChoice.
“They are supporting us this year by giving us airtime to advertise the festival, and they have created a MultiChoice hub in the Monument where they have put up screens to allow Festival productions to promote themselves using digital posters,” he said.
This having been the first space I visited, the Monument Building carried colourful artefacts which visitors gazed upon. We were also treated live and on screen shows carried by MultiChoice at the festival.
Lankester said that artists were given a venue and all the support they need to stage their work.
“It’s a low barrier to entry and is heavily subsidised by the festival, and represents a great opportunity for emerging artists,” he told City Press.
Lankester acknowledged the importance of the recent partnership with MultiChoice.
He said: Their partnership will, we hope, grow in years to come as they are critical as a platform for South African and African storytellers. We will sit with them after this year’s event to understand their strategy and where they see the growth opportunities,” Lankester said.
Phahle echoed this sentiment as she expressed her delight at the newly forged partnership.
“We are pleased to have found a place as a partner of the National Arts Festival, not just because of our objectives for developing local talent are aligned, but because we share a commitment to enriching lives,” she said.