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Safety first for full house Festival

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Safety first for full house Festival
Around 110 South African Police Service members from six districts in the Eastern Cape have been deployed in Makhanda until 4 July. To ensure festival goers safety, they will conduct foot patrols at Festival venues and perform other operations. Church Square 23 June 2022. Picture Sue Maclennan

If you missed your chance to purchase tickets to the sold out National Arts Festival show, don’t worry. There are hundreds of tickets that will be available over the coming days. With the scrapping of restrictions on the size of gatherings, along with the other Covid regulations, 100% occupation of venues is now allowed.

At the event’s media launch in the Makana Council Chamber on Thursday, board member Siphiwo Mahala spoke about the excitement of meeting on 30 March to plan the first physical face to face Festival in three years.

The event was planned with Covid-19 regulations allowing 50% capacity audiences. Wednesday’s signing of the repeal of regulations 16a, b and c was welcome, but meant making new plans again, quickly.

” “For the third consecutive time, the event should pivot,” Mahala stated.

At short notice, the Covid-19 lockdown forced the 2020 event online – a move Mahala said had allowed the organisation to reconceptualise its reach beyond a physical audience. In 2021 a hybrid event – online and live – was planned. The pandemic did not stop and it continued online.

The 48th edition of the National Arts Festival sees 250 productions, exhibitions, workshops and talks taking place in 46 venues across the city. Victoria Girls High School’s Village Green is returning, as well as a weekend market at Church Square and a funfair at Fiddlers Green.

Mahala stressed the importance of partnerships between stakeholders and sponsors.

The Acting MEC for Arts and Culture Siphokazi Mani­Lusithi recognized the effects of the pandemic upon artists and stated that the Festival provided an opportunity for traders and artists. In their media invitation, the Department of Sport Recreation Arts and Culture said 2022 marked the 20th year of the Eastern Cape Government supporting the Festival.

The government had supported the National Arts Festival to the tune of more than R13 million, of which R2 million was ringfenced for the Eastern Cape Showcase.

” The Eastern Cape government is committed to growing Festival as an inclusive platform,” stated Mani-Lusithi.

Makana Mayor Yandiswa Vara stated that the municipality had established the multi-stakeholder Festival joint operation committee (JOC), prior to the event and the group continues to meet every day. To assist with infrastructure, she said that a team from the stormwater and roads section was present.

Parliament Speaker Nosiviwe Maasa-Nqakula, and Sarah Baartman Mayor Deon de Vos attended the media launch.

FESTIVAL FIRST DAY: National Arts Festival Board member Siphiwo Mahala, acting Arts and Culture MEC Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi, National Assembly SPeaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Makana Mayor Yandiswa Vara, Sarah Baartman District Mayor Deon de Vos and Makana Councillor Ramie Xonxa, after a media briefing at the Makana City Hall on Thursday 23 June 2022. Picture: Sue Maclennan

The event was preceded in Church Square by the Security Cluster Parade. Officers from Hi-Tec Security and members of the Makhanda Community Policing Forum joined the bulk of the 110 South African Police Service members deployed from six districts in the province at attention in front of the City Hall. Additional SAPS members will remain in Makhanda from now until July 4.

The show of readiness featured addresses from Sarah Baartman District Commissioner and Brigadier Johan Lebok. Grahamstown Station Commander Colonel Mbulelo Pika was also present. Andrew Kirk, Makhanda Community Policing Forum Chairperson, gave remarks.

“We will paint Makhanda Blue,” Warrant Officer Majola Nakazi, a spokesperson for SAPS, later revealed to Talk of the Town. He stated that there are several activities planned during the Festival.

” We will clear the streets of illegal drugs and keep property and people secure .”

There would be foot patrols around Festival areas, Nkohli stated.

National Arts Festival CEO Monica Newton addresses the Festival Security Cluster and members of the public at a parade in CHurch Square, Makhanda, on THursday 23 June 2022. Picture: Sue Maclennan

The live National Arts Festival takes place in Makhanda from 23 June – 3 July.

Monica Newton, National Arts Festival CEO said that enthusiasm was a measure of success. However, we are realistic and trying to gauge our expectations in difficult economic times.

“It is encouraging to note that accommodation establishments around town report brisk bookings, and that there has been activity at the box offices. It is clear that Festival-goers are hungry for an immersive, live experience .”

The Festival has, in previous years, brought around R90 million into the Eastern Cape city.

Just over R18 million’s worth of road replacement and resurfacing work started in Makhanda in 2021, with a focus on the city centre and Joza.

Artists also have joined the effort to make the city more attractive for residents and visitors. 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist for Performance Art, Gavin Krastin, has already begun performing his National Arts Festival piece, 12 Labours, which swaps the mythological masculine hero of war for modern heroes who commit acts of service in their communities. On weekends, a group of brightly colored gnomes were seen painting buses stops and planting verges in the City.

Load-shedding has been factored into the logistics, with some of the Festival’s venues equipped with generators.

“Venues that do not have generators will use emergency lighting whenever possible, or show will be rescheduled,” Festival stated in an earlier statement. Loadshedding could result in tickets being refunded to holders.

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