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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

NAF FIGURES & TICKET SALES (article first published : 2008-07-2)

At the halfway mark of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, organisers are reporting a “gratifying” set of attendance figures and ticket sales.

“Despite the economic downturn we’re seeing that ticket sales are slightly higher than the numbers for 2007, both in terms of rand value and number of tickets sold,” said Festival CEO Tony Lankester. The comparison with 2007 is done by taking a snapshot of where sales are at present, compared to the identical point in last year’s Festival. It includes both productions that have been completed and advance ticket sales for productions still to come.

“This is good news for the arts. It shows that, even when times are hard and there is greater pressure on disposable income, audiences are still prioritising theatregoing and making space for it in their budgets. Performers have also been telling us that they are seeing fuller houses this year, and the figures bear that out. While this obviously wouldn’t be the case for every production, the overall trend is still positive,” he added.

Actual figures will only be released at the end of the ten-day Festival. The increase is evident in both Main and Fringe sales.

Anticipating a tougher economic climate this year, the National Arts Festival made a conscious decision to keep ticket price increases to a minimum.

“It’s still the only place in the country that you can see big, spectacular productions like African Celebration for R45 and Don Quixote for as little as R54,” Tony Lankester goes on to explain. “The average price across all Main productions is in the region of R36 – cheaper than a movie ticket back home in Johannesburg or Cape Town.”

The Festival has also re-launched its “Friends of the Festival” programme, offering even more discounts to patrons, and through its Arts Encounter and Outreach programmes it is opening the doors of its productions to greater numbers of disadvantaged communities and a wider audience.

The National Arts Festival is sponsored by The Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, The National Arts Council, the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund and the SABC.




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