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Friday, October 14, 2011


Five respected members of the South African arts community will serve on the National Arts Festival’s Artistic Committee.

Phyllis Klotz, Nomusa Makhubu, Dominic Thorburn, Brett Bailey and Gregory Maqoma have joined the ranks of the Festival’s Artistic Committee, with effect from September this year, and will each serve a three-year term on the Committee.

“The National Arts Festival is a forerunner in setting trends for South African arts festivals as well being an essential barometer of our nation’s creative capital. The new members on the Committee bring a reservoir of vast knowledge and integrity to help us to further drive our vision of being South Africa’s premiere arts festival,” said Festival Director Ismail Mahomed about the new members of the Artistic Committee. The Committee plays a significant advisory role in the programming of the Festival, as well as identifying artists for the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Awards.

With over 35 years of experience in the performing arts industry, Phyllis Klotz has a wide range of experience, both at community and professional level, and has toured extensively with productions nationally and internationally. She brings an understanding of a wide array of artistic genres to the Artistic Committee, having also created an award-winning African Orchestra and Dance Company housed at the Sibikwa Theatre. “I will, together with fellow committee members, continue to advocate for relevant, cutting edge South African performance of the high quality the Festival has come to be known for,” said Klotz about her expectations for being part of the Committee. “At the same time, I will be mindful of the rich performance tradition that has been so much a part of the Festival,” she added. She has programmed many festivals and events, and will be serving on the theatre sub-committee.

The 2001 Standard Bank Young Artist Brett Bailey has vast experience of the National Arts Festival. He presented his first play at the Festival in 1991, and has since presented 10 other works at the Festival, with six of these on the Festival’s Main programme. He currently is the artistic director of Third World Bunfight, the performance company he founded in 1996 and he has curated the Infecting the City in Cape Town for the past four years, the region’s only public arts festival. “The National Arts Festival is a vital phenomenon in South Africa. One sees this so clearly when one visits other African countries where arts festivals are insignificant or struggling to take root,” said Bailey. “The Festival has the power to shape the arts and the thinking of the country and the region, and I love to be part of the visionary team,” he added to describe his enthusiasm about joining the Festival’s theatre sub-committee.

Nomusa Makhubu is an Art Historian and Visual Culture lecturer at Rhodes University, an artist, a research team member of the Visual and Performing Arts of Africa (ViPAA) and former council member of the South African Visual Art Historians (SAVAH). Her own current research is based on popular culture (film) in Nigeria, allowing her to also be immersed in spaces of artistic practice in South Africa and beyond. This year, she served on the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum selection committee for the Biennale, and adjudicated the Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation photography exposition. “The cultural momentum in South Africa is spellbinding. With more collaborative, experimental and daring art production practices, South African art unfastens a diversity of dialogues. It also necessitates constant review of its practices in relation to the African context and in the global arena,” said Makhubu. “The fact that the National Arts Festival is one of the most significant platforms on which these dynamics are enabled, draws me,” she added. Makhubu brings an ability to do analytical research-based and critical evaluation of artistic trends locally and internationally, and will serve on the visual arts sub-committee.

Dominic Thorburn is a Professor and the current Head of the Department of Fine Art at Rhodes University. As an artist and academic, he has exhibited and published extensively locally and internationally. He has been awarded numerous residencies, awards, grants and scholarships. He has also worked with numerous developmental arts initiatives, including the Dakawa Art and Craft Project and the Egazini Outreach Project in Grahamstown. On a national level, he has been involved in various projects, including the Break the Silence Campaign. He has been a longstanding member of the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council (ECPACC), for which he still consults. He is a member of the newly appointed National Arts Council (NAC), chairing the Visual Arts Advisory Panel. “I believe that Grahamstown has a lot to offer the Festival, and that in turn the Festival’s potential to impact on Grahamstown’s wider communities is only really starting to be tapped, and this is certainly an agenda I would promote,” said Thornburn. He has extensive experience and an interest in contemporary art and curation, and will also serve on the visual art sub-committee.

Gregory Vuyani Maqoma started his dance training in 1990 at Moving into Dance. From then on he established himself as an internationally renowned dancer, choreographer, director, and scriptwriter. When he founded Vuyani Dance Theatre (VDT) in 1999 Greg was at the Performing Arts Research and Training School (PARTS) in Belgium. Amongst his many awards is the Standard Bank Young Artist award for Dance in 2002. Maqoma’s work has been seen in Africa, Europe, USA and South America. He was Associate Artistic director for FNB Dance Umbrella Festival 2010 and The Artistic Director of the Afro-Vibes Festival in the Netherlands and UK. Maqoma was the head choreographer for the FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Concert in June 2010. Maqoma has created repertoire for Moving into Dance, Jazzart Company, South African Ballet Theatre, and Cape Performing Arts, amongst others. He joins the dance sub-committee.

“I’m incredibly excited about the impetus that the new members will give to the Artistic Committee. As a Festival with a commitment to respond to the ever-changing arts and cultural landscape, I’m confident that the process of revitalizing the Artistic Committee with membership tenure that is renewable every three years will contribute greatly to ensure that the National Arts Festival consistently stays at its prime position of being South Africa’s most important celebration of artistic and cultural excellence and relevance,” said Mahomed.

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.

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