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NAF 2003 PRONOUNCED SUCCESSFUL (article first published : 2003-07-9)

The National Arts Festival 2003 saw over 121,000 attendees at the various events on offer during the event in Grahamstown, representing an increase in attendance figures of 18.70% in comparison with the 5.2% increase achieved in 2002. Monetary sales this year increased by 23.24% for the combined main and fringe programmes.

“We are very pleased with the figures and the support shown this year to the 352 events and 1,795 presentations in comparison with the 342 events and 1,302 presentations in 2002,” says Lynette Marais, National Arts Festival director.

“Drawing plenty of support from audiences and in particular from younger theatre lovers, the main programme had an increase in attendees of 7.71% and an increase in monetary sales of 3.98%. On the fringe, the attendance increase was a whopping 27.54% compared to an increase of 6.09% for the year before. Monetary fringe sales increased by 35.48%.”

Media attendance and support increased dramatically in 2003 with 380 members of the press attending this year’s festival. This year’s event included foreign media representation from the UK, US, France, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Holland and Nigeria. “The combination of a strong publicity campaign through out and the promotion of some top class events ensured good media attendance,” adds Lynette. “Publicity was an integral part of the marketing this year and a stronger reach was received through major television, radio, magazine and press coverage.”

Lynette commented that huge interest was shown in the showcase breakfasts which were organised and run by Jan Ryan, who invited, on behalf of the National Arts Festival, 14 overseas directors and producers to visit the Festival. Artists were given the chance to meet with them and to showcase their works. This is the first time in South Africa that artists have been given this opportunity, and the spin off from this will benefit the artists on all levels.

She says the Festival programme contained something for everyone, with a varied and interesting programme as enticing as any in the past. “Additionally, we hope the growing street theatre component remains a strong feature, as it allows audiences who are financially strapped to be able to be part of the Festival as well.”

In his address to the media, Mannie Manim stressed the importance of the five sponsors, The Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, The National Distribution Lottery Trust Fund, the SABC and the National Arts Council. “The success of a Festival like this depends on the continued support of our sponsors. No Festival of this size and nature can survive without this sort of funding,” he said.

The whole Eastern Cape region benefits from the Festival. Statistics show that the Festival brings in an excess of R37million to the region each year, with many residents of Grahamstown dependent on revenues brought in during the duration of the Festival.

“It is doubtful whether the region would survive as well without it,” Mannie said.




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