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Sunday, April 5, 2009


National Arts Festival’s Winter School now renamed and restructured.

The National Arts Festival’s Winter School has been renamed and restructured, but the aim is still to stimulate discussion around current topics. Talks are now grouped under various subjects and each series culminates in an evening panel discussion where audience members and the experts can move into open engagement with other.

During Young Artist Award-Winners – Past & Present, a selection of artists discusses their practice. Voices include Kesivan Naidoo (Jazz, 2009), Andrew Buckland (Drama, 1986), Acty Tang (Dance, 2007) and Sibongile Khumalo (Music, 1993).

What do the creative arts offer modern society? Do the Humanities Matter? asks a series chaired by Peter Vale who, with Jonathan Jansen, heads up the Academy of Science of South Africa Consensus Panel on the Future of the Humanities. What is digital media doing to our world? What is urban culture? These are some of the questions aired in Spotlight on New Media, with Iain “EWOK” Robinson evaluating graffiti art and Adam Haupt talking on hip-hop and black youth culture. The MXit phenomenon is explained by its creators and an exhibition celebrates the fiftieth birthday of Len Sak’s cartoon character JoJo. In a public conversation author Andy Mason, Nanda Sooben and Len Sak will engage with a brace of cartoonists.

In the series Living through the Global Economic Crisis Time magazine’s Africa bureau chief Alex Perry tracks 20 years of change since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Aubrey Matshiqi of the Centre for Policy Studies asks if South Africans are facing a time of new austerity. Among other speakers, Eskom chair Bobby Godsell talks about the biggest retrenchment since 1929 and how to avoid the phenomena that triggered World War II. Reg Romney chairs the closing panel discussion.

Think!Fest continues the partnership with the Legal Resources Centre, asking how the government can be held accountable to South Africa’s Constitution. As the countdown to the 2010 Soccer World Cup gets under way, speakers in the series Juggling the Ball focus on our sporting performance and John Perlman chairs a panel focusing on sporting issues.

Thorny questions around Spirituality and Sexuality are tackled by Imam Muhsin Hendriks, Nkunzi Nkabinde (author of The Blue Bull – My Ancestors and Me) and Rev Judith Kotze from Inclusive and Affirming Ministries.

The series titled Legends and Legacies honours eminent South Africans who died during the past two year: biographer Nomsa Mwamuta talks on Mama Miriam Makeba, Fred Khumalo pays tribute to John Matshikiza and Sikhumbuzo Mngadi to Eskia Mphahlele, and Malvern van Wyk Smith reviews the life of poet and teacher, Don Mclennan.

Explorations includes a virtual adventure trail through West Africa with Liesl Louw, author of Anderkant Timboektoe. Jane Taylor celebrates Charles Darwin (born 200 years ago) and John Hund examines the Mystery of Autism and offers a controversial new theory on the condition.

The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The Eastern Cape Government, The National Arts Council, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and The Sunday Independent. It runs from July 2 to 11, 2009, in Grahamstown. For more information visit