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MANDELA FOR GRAHAMSTOWN (article first published : 1999-06-23)

Former President Nelson Mandela will officially open the 25th Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

Nelson Mandela, who is the patron of the special anniversary festival, will arrive at Grahamstown from Umtata at 12h30 on June 29. He will be driven in a motorcade from the airport on a route taking him through the city to the Cathedral, to be welcomed by the Mayor of Grahamstown, Cllr Nontuthuzelo Faku as well as local dignitaries and Festival officials. Mr Mandela will deliver a short address and cut a symbolic ribbon to open the event.

In its quarter century of existence the Festival has become one of the largest events of its kind in the world. This year it will extend over 13 days rather than the usual 11,will also take place in main centres outside Grahamstown. Leading artists and companies from Africa, Europe and the United States will take part and several major productions will receive their première in Grahamstown.

For 16 of its 25 years the Festival has been sponsored by Standard Bank, which has this year contributed record levels of funding. Grahamstown Foundation chief executive Dr Richard Chernis says that this year's Festival marks a major step forward in the development of the Festival, which is the Foundation's flagship project. "We are honoured by Mr Mandela's attendance at the 1999 Festival. His presence is an eloquent testimony to the standing of culture and the arts in the new South Africa and to the high regard our Festival enjoys in the arts community world-wide."


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