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ADDITIONAL SPONSORS FOR FESTIVAL (article first published : 2002-04-2)

Following Standard Bank's announcement made originally in 1999 that it would be withdrawing as the main sponsor of the National Arts Festival after the 2001 event, two additional sponsors - the Government of the Eastern Cape and the National Arts Council - have come on board as major sponsors, with added support from Shamwari Game Reserve.

Terry Timson, Standard Bank Director Group Marketing, says, "Standard Bank's long association with the Festival has been richly rewarding for the bank and we welcome the involvement of the new sponsors. We are optimistic that the new format of the 2002 Festival will give the event an exciting new direction."

"The National Arts Festival has the reputation of being one of the most important arts events on the African continent," says Mannie Manim, Chairman of the National Arts Festival Committee. "The Festival has put Grahamstown on the map and is of immense economical benefit to the region." He went on to state that Standard Bank had been an exemplary sponsor and had always been available to the Festival for help and guidance: “The bank has played an active role in securing the new sponsors and they will provide a welcome boost to the continued success of the Festival.”

Nosimo Balindlela MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture of the Eastern Cape Government comments, "During the first five years of democracy this department focused on identifying new talent and indigenous art forms, which, with capacity building, is resulting in a revival of the arts and culture in the Eastern Cape. During the second phase of democracy the department hopes to ensure that its Cultural Industries' Growth Strategy is fully implemented by helping elevate local artists to become viable and innovative entrepreneurs."

With time Balindlela hopes that such partnerships will provide an offshoot such as the Wildcoast festival that will further diversify the cultural events calendar of the region. According to her, it is against this backdrop that the Department has agreed to enter into a partnership with the Standard Bank of South Africa and the National Arts Festival to ensure that the 28th festival running from June 29 to July 6 will remain the success it has been to date.

Government believes that the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown has the potential to make a significant contribution to economic development for the Makana District in particular and the province in general. Balindlela points out that the festival will also afford local artists an opportunity to showcase their diverse cultural products and to measure their capabilities and skills in terms of product range, quality and performance. "It will also provide them with the opportunity to market themselves amongst other national and international artists," she adds.

"The National Arts Council has funded many groups who have participated in the festival since 1997. We have noted the Festival has made attempts to transform itself from an English festival to one that truly represents South African arts feeding into the local community and province, acting as a catalyst and showcase for the arts nationally and internationally. This infusion of art forms through music, dance, theatre and the visual arts is a model of culture of festivals in local communities. Therefore the board of the National Arts Council has decided to support the Festival," says Doreen Nteta, Chief Executive Officer of the NAC.

The NAC’s partnership with the Festival will therefore not merely extend to funding of the Festival itself, but also productions. The NAC has established a committee which will interact with the Festival committee.

"The Festival is one of the most diverse and exciting in the world," says Adrian Gardener of Shamwari Game Reserve. "It brings thousands of visitors to the Eastern Cape region, boosting the local economy and plays a vital role in nurturing local talent. We are extremely pleased to be involved."

Having begun in 1974 with 60-odd items, the National “Arts Festival now boasts approximately 300 events on the Main and Fringe programmes and close to 1,300 performances on offer, with supporters numbering around 30,000.

More information from Lynette Marais of the National Arts Festival on 046 622-4341 or 072 183-0989 or e-mail lynette.marais@foundation.org.za or visit www.nafest.co.za




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