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Thursday, July 23, 2020


(“Genocide of a Beautiful Mind II” by 2020 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art, Blessing Ngobeni)

As news filters through about the closures of more theatres and general devastation to the arts industry locally and abroad, artists are increasingly finding a home online. The Virtual National Arts Festival, although running initially from June 25 - July 5, has extended the run of the curated selection of Festival content until July 31, 2020. At the same time, the vFringe’s online platform continues to grow with the first crop of Standard Bank Ovations being announced to recognize productions that truly stand out on the independently produced vFringe.

(Namisa Mdlalose from “GIRL.” one of the Standard Bank Ovation winners on the 2020 vFringe)

Says National Arts Festival CEO, Monica Newton, “No one is able to predict where we are going to be as an industry in 6 months or even 12 months, but it seems Covid will be with us for quite some time. It is astonishing how quickly audiences and artists have adapted to the online performance space which is emerging as the lifeline that artists so desperately need.”

Some of the productions on the Festival will no longer be available due to contractual agreements with other festivals or events but audiences will still be able to enjoy most of the content that was online for the Festival. The line-up includes a host of top-notch jazz performances on the Standard Bank Jazz Festival including artists like Thandiswa Mazwai, Spha Mdlalose and Vuma Levin. The work of the Standard Bank Young Artists will also remain online and audiences can enjoy the Virtual Green market and vFringe Visual Art Galleries as well as the wonderful Eastern Cape Showcase. Some of the elements of the Creativate Digital Arts Festival will also continue to be available online.

 (Right: A scene from Qondiswa James’ “A Howl In Makhanda”)

The shows are all individually priced and can be watched up to five times per purchase.

Festival favourites on the curated programme have included shows like Brett Bailey’s Macbeth, The Very Big Comedy Show hosted by Rob van Vuuren, an audio drama of the play Woolworths, Qondiswa James’ A Howl In Makhanda and a documentary about the life and work of Featured Artist, Madosini, called Songs Are Like The Grass. There are many, many more shows to catch too.

(Left: Rob van Vuuren host of “The Very Big Comedy Show”)

The Virtual Fringe is a feast of theatre, dance, comedy, magic and music for every taste and 90% of the ticket proceeds go directly to the artists. The first batch of Standard Bank Ovation’s was announced on Wednesday, July 15. 

They include Eoah A Noah And Edgar by EOAH_ZA, Domination by Is’thatha Dance Company, The Art Of Experimental Acapella, Then, Now And Always by Signature Sound Acapella, Girl. with Namisa Mdlalose, Nowhere People by Kinsmen and Next! by Wela Kapela Productions.

(Right: Nombulumko Mngexekeze as Lady Macbeth in a scene from “Macbeth”. Image by Nicky Newman)

More Standard Bank Ovation Awards will be announced throughout the month, culminating in an online ceremony on July 31 to recognize overall winners and announce special awards.

The Virtual National Arts Festival can be found at Tickets start at R25.

 (To link direct to the National Arts Festival site click on the large banner that runs across the top of this blog or visit or visit Facebook:; Twitter: @artsfestival or Instagram: nationalartsfestival)


Special Notice for Standard Bank Card Holders:

Standard Bank cardholders qualify for a discount of 20% when using a valid Standard Bank debit, cheque or credit card. The discount is applicable to online purchases only. This offer will be available for a limited time only, subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply.