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NAF REPORT BACK (article first published : 2007-07-23)

With the dust not yet settled from the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown which ran from June 28 to July 7, 2007, the results show good attendances and increased monetary figures. This gives the thumbs up to the organisers and artists alike, that the public and media fully support the yearly pilgrimage to Grahamstown. The general feeling was that the programme was well balanced between main and fringe events, with sold-out shows being more evident than in the past.

There were over 143,403 attendees at the various events on offer during the 2007 Festival, representing an increase of 1.73%. The main programme saw an increase of attendees of 10.11% and the fringe saw a decrease of 2.95%.

The decrease in attendance figures for the fringe shows can be attributed to the fact that there were 84 less shows on the fringe in 2007 than in 2006. Monetary sales increased overall by 11.65%, with the increase of monetary sales on the main programme shown at 16.70% and an increase of 9.58% on the fringe.

Attendees were treated to 536 combined main and fringe events with 1,934 presentations in 2007, compared to 620 events and 2,064 presentations in 2006.

There were 186 events and 415 presentations on the main programme in 2007 compared to 192 events and 388 presentations in 2006.

On the fringe programme there were 350 events and 1,519 presentations in 2007, compared with 428 events and 1 676 presentations in 2006.

“We are very satisfied with these results and the support shown”, says Festival Director Lynette Marais. “The figures show a significant increase in efficiency, i.e. fewer venues and more shows per venue and the sold-out shows indicate a good standard of work being presented and well supported. Good interest was again shown from the overseas directors and impresarios. This has become a shopping paradise for overseas talent scouts.”

Approximately 400 members of the press supported this year’s festival. The foreign media representation came from the UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Finland, Korea, China, Holland, Australia, Botswana and Nigeria. The local media gave the National Arts Festival good support with outstanding radio coverage coming from SAfm and Algoa fm. The SABC did not have its usual stage at the station this year but brought in a mobile unit which moved between the station and various outlying areas.

In his address to the media, Paul Bannister, on behalf of the Board of the National Arts Festival, stressed the importance of the media and their support of the arts, as well as the support given by the five sponsors, the Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, the National Arts Council and the SABC. “The success of a festival like this depends on the continued support of our sponsors and the media,” he said.”No festival of this size and nature can survive without this sort of funding. We do however need another corporate sponsor to alleviate the yearly rising costs and allow for upgrading and maintenance of the venues.”

The comprehensive report of the entire 2007 Festival has not yet been completed. However, statistics for last year show that the Festival brings in an excess of R40 million to the region each year, with many residents of Grahamstown entirely dependent on revenues brought in during the festival.




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