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Sunday, May 29, 2011


Getting to know the artistic decision-makers of festivals is the first step into understanding how festivals select or commission their programmes. The National Arts Festival will offer producers and artists a unique opportunity to meet with the festival directors of some the major South African arts festivals as well as directors from international festivals who come to the National Arts Festival to scout for South African work.

“Several productions from the 2010 National Arts Festival were booked for extended seasons at other South African festivals and theatres. Some of our productions have also been secured for festivals outside of South Africa. We are delighted to play a significant part in extending opportunities for South African artists,” said Festival Director Ismail Mahomed.

A daily series of one hour workshops will be featured on the Festival’s Hands On! Masks Off! programme. Participating festival directors include Steven Sack (Arts Alive Festival), Brett Pyper (KKNK), Yvette Hardie (Out the Box Festival) Emma Durden (Musho Festival), Sue Clarence (The Witness Hilton Arts Festival), Georgina Thomson (Dance Umbrella), Ashraf Johaardien (969 Festival) Neil le Roux (Suidoosterfees), Linda Bukhosini (Playhouse Theatre Festivals) and Neville Engelbrecht (National Schools Festival).

This networking opportunity with artistic directors will offer invaluable insights into the strategic directions of each of South African festivals and it will give producers the opportunity to both network and pitch their proposals to the key artistic makers. International festival producers who will be at the Festival will come from India, France, Romania, Argentina Belgium, Netherlands and the U.K.

“A growing trend of progressive arts leadership is about helping artists to grow their networks, artistic vision, their determination and their ability to constantly reinvent themselves,” added Mahomed. “We want to equip our artists and our emerging arts managements with the tools that will enable them to earn sustainable incomes from the arts. In this year’s programmes, we will feature some independent arts managements who have successfully demonstrated a fierce ability to break many glass ceilings.”

Successful new managements who will share the secrets of their success include Daniel Galloway (The Fugard Theatre) and management duo Simon and Helen Cooper (Kalk Bay Theatre), who will offer insights into why they backed last year’s Festival favourite and award-winning production, London Road. Caroline Smart will discuss how The Stable Theatre is adding new vitality to the KZN cultural scene, while Tanya Surtees from the acclaimed production company FTH:K will discuss their journey of cracking it from the Fringe to the Arena and finally onto the Festival’s Main programme.

Networking and building relations will feature prominently in a workshop that will be presented by the Performing Arts Network of South Africa. Mike van Graan, who probably holds the reputation of being one of South Africa’s most internationally-networked cultural practitioners, will discuss his secrets to success.

Acquiring the skills for arts entrepreneurship is high on the Festival’s agenda. The Cultural Help Desk will once again partner with the Festival to present The Entrepreneurship Game, affording one young arts practitioner the opportunity to win a business start-up prize valued at R25,000. Festival CEO Tony Lankester will present a workshop on how the National Arts Festival balances the act between its organisational management and its creative direction.

Market Theatre Foundation Council Member and Acting CEO J. Brooks Spector will facilitate two workshops on how arts administrators can effectively nurture the crucial relationship between the organization’s board and its management. Arts organisations will also be given the tools to strengthen their relationships with the arts media in a series of workshops facilitated by media professionals and focusing how to devise an effective media campaign. Emerging film-makers can attend a series of workshops presented by the National Film & Video Foundation.

Funding of the arts will fall under a focused spotlight this year. Four of the major arts funding agencies will offer workshops on how arts organisations can better understand the funding mechanisms and operations of the funding agencies. The series of workshops will culminate with a panel session featuring Minister of Arts & Culture Paul Mashatile on the Festival’s Think!Fest programme.

“We are inspired by the success stories that we receive from artists who have participated in the Hands On! Masks Off! programme in previous years. We continuously receive reports about artists receiving international exchange opportunities to artists being able to grow their funding resources after acquiring new skills by participating in the workshops. The Festival prides itself on our ability to see this kind of growth that we offer to artists at no costs and we are grateful to our sponsor, Business and Arts South Africa for their visionary backing given to the Hands On! Masks Off! programme since its inception in 2008,” said Mahomed.

This year will see two newer extensions to the Hands On! Masks Off! programme. The Sustainability Commons will be a lively forum of lectures, exhibitions, performances and crafts that explore collective understandings of contemporary environmental concerns and creative practice in sustainability while the Art Lounge will offer stimulating conversations about the arts over tea, coffee and gluwein.

Some of the highlights at the Art Lounge will include a discussion on Nollywood films, a conversation with Standard Bank Young Artist Nandipha Mntambo, a panel discussion on various community arts projects in South Africa and a conversation with Mandie van der Spuy about corporate sponsorship of the arts and Standard Bank’s role in the National Arts Festival.

“The growth of the Hands On! Masks Off! programme is a remarkable testimony to the passion of South Africa’s established arts professionals to share their knowledge and expertise with a growing industry of newly emerging arts managers,” concluded Mahomed.

Bookings for this year’s “11 Days of Amaz!ng” are open. Tickets are available through Computicket. Booking kits available from selected Standard Bank Branches, selected Exclusive Books and all Computickets. For more information on the programme, accommodation and travel options click on the banner advert above or visit

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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 M Net.