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Tuesday, December 8, 2009


National Arts Festival eyes FIFA World Cup audience after positive results.

The National Arts Festival, Grahamstown has again been given the thumbs up from its audiences and the media.

Attendance figures at the end of the 2009 Festival showed an increase of 13.21 percent with the numbers of people attending (170,045) and has just announced that the publicity figures have risen from R134,808,733 million in 2008 to R147,283 219 million in 2009.

During 2010 the festival has increased the number of days from ten to fifteen days and will run from June 20 to July 4. This is to accommodate local and international audiences looking for a cultural fix in-between all of the world class soccer.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off on June 11, with the finals on July 11. Studies during the German World Cup in 2006 showed that audiences wanted to experience the arts and culture offerings of the hosting cities when they were not watching matches, and as South Africa’s biggest and most established arts festival, the National Arts Festival is perfectly positioned to provide the entertainment this audience wants.

The National Arts Festival wants to provide tourists and soccer fans with the opportunity to experience “15 days of amazing” in order to catch a glimpse of the soul of South Africa through its arts, in between watching the world’s best soccer talent on display.

Central to the National Arts Festival’s plans is creating a buzz across Grahamstown that will complement the excitement of the soccer. Building on the trend toward greater enthusiasm for dynamic street performances, observed in 2009, the Festival has some more magical moments planned for the streets of Grahamstown.

“In 2009, in addition to increased paying audiences, we saw a strong increase in the number of free productions and exhibitions, which saw attendance at free events climb strongly,” said Tony Lankester, National Arts Festival CEO. “Our conservative estimate is that 36,150 people watched our 57 free shows and stages, and attended the 50 exhibitions scattered in venues across town.” This figure is up from 2008’s estimated 30 000 attendees at free events. Spectators are travelling to South Africa to watch soccer, first and foremost. But each game is only 90 minutes long – we’re positioning ourselves to give them great entertainment that cuts to the cultural heart of South Africa around their time in stadiums and in front of TVs.”

The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown is one of the recently launched Seven Wonders of Cacadu, an initiative to give visitors an idea of what not to miss when in the area. The other gems of the Cacadu District, which forms part of the Eastern Cape Province, include the Sunshine Coast, Addo Elephant National Park, the Baviaanskloof Wilderness, Jeffrey’s- and St. Francis Bay, the Karoo and the Tsitsikamma forest with Langkloof. Visitors to the National Arts Festival can once again expect the best of South African, African and international drama, music, dance, film, jazz and visual art, and a few other surprises, on display at venues throughout the historic Grahamstown in 2010. For more information visit

The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The Eastern Cape Government, The National Arts Council, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, The Sunday Independent and MNet.