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New initiatives to freshen up the 2018 National Arts Festival

Grahamstown’s annual gathering of creative and artistic talent is readying itself for a reboot as the National Arts Festival reveals some fresh features for this year’s programme.

Creativate Digital Arts Festival

As the breakneck evolution of technology spills over into all facets of life, artists are absorbing the playful possibilities that digital technology brings – and a new generation of arts lovers is emerging as a result.

Presented by Standard Bank, the new Creativate Digital Arts Festival is being produced by the National Arts Festival with curatorial advisor, Toby Shapshack. From a virtual reality dinner party play to digital graffiti and workshops on digital music composition and production, this brand new Festival is likely to draw plenty of curiosity as creativity and technology converge.

The Festival of Film and Ideas

This reimagined aspect of the Festival sees a programme of thought-provoking discussions, workshops and experiences, many of which are aligned to the works and themes seen on the Festival stages. The Festival’s film element is being curated by award-winning film and documentary maker, Dylan Valley who will reflect on this year’s curatorial prompt ‘Silences and Voices’

“We wanted to locate what we previously staged as ‘ThinkFest’ more firmly in the Festival’s programming and give it a new energy and momentum,” Executive Producer Ashraf Johaardien explained. “So by creating this festival-within-a-festival we’re binding together a lot of the content that gives rise to debate and inspiration. It will serve as a valuable bridge to our artistic programme and a framework within which Festinos can engage each other and our artists,” he said.

New Home for the Village GreenThe Festival’s popular market and meeting place is moving to Victoria Girls’ School in Beaufort Street, bringing the attraction closer to the centre of town and residential areas. The market will be completely redesigned, with zones and spaces for families and kids, an improved food court and beer tent offering and more accessible box office area. Entertainers will be an integral part of the experience, including a group of international buskers fresh from their summer Festival circuits.

Says Festival CEO Tony Lankester, “We have partnered with Standard Bank to reinvent this essential Festival hub and we think it’s going to be buzzing this year.”

Says Jenny Pheiffer, Head – Brand, Sponsorships and Events at Standard Bank. “We’re looking forward to an energised National Arts Festival. The Standard Bank Village Green, in its new location, will be the festival hub for great craft shopping, amazing food and it’s the perfect place to visit in-between shows. We also believe that the digital arts festival, Creativate, will provide audiences with fresh and innovative experiences and engaging discussion. The Standard Bank Jazz Festival will be turning its attention this year to the rebirth of jazz, as a new generation of musicians tackle our musical legacy. That’s a lot of reasons why you should not miss the National Arts Festival this year!”

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