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LOTTERY SUPPORTS HILTON FESTIVAL (article first published : 2007-02-5)

The National Lotteries Board has embraced the annual Witness Hilton Arts Festival by supporting a series of innovative and wide-reaching arts projects and initiatives to be affiliated to the festival for this year and next.

In addition to the selection of top productions to be staged at the Hilton Festival for 2007 and 2008, The National Lotteries Board has identified four innovations which will be included into the Hilton Festival mix.

Firstly, the Lotteries' vision is to cover the costs in order to bring one international performer to the festival for this year and for next year to be part of a South African production. Festival director, Sue Clarence, is already in contact with various great international stage performers to negotiate their availability for this wonderful opportunity.

Secondly, there will be three areas of upgrade and skills transference. These areas of focus will be run as training modules throughout the year culminating in the festival. Training opportunities are available to people who live in and around Hilton and Pietermaritzburg with an interest in theatre and the performing arts. A selection process is being put in place to find appropriate candidates.

The first area of focus is the technical aspect of theatre. Technical experts Jane Cross, Tina le Roux, Megan Levy and Rosemarie Schumann will be joined by lighting maestro Mike Broderick in a formal training module on technical skills. The most promising student to complete the course will be sponsored to attend the one year technical and theatre craft course at the Durban University of Technology next year.

The second area of focus is theatre skills. The drama upgrade programme will be run by established theatrical duo, Ellis Pearson and Bheki Mkhwane together with respected actor and director, Ralph Lawson. They will be joined by Thom Pasculli, an American theatre training specialist who runs a street theatre project with Native Americans who will be in South Africa at the time.

The third and final area of focus is music. Respected maestro and director of Music Revival, Pietermaritzburg-based Christopher Duigan will spearhead this component. Duigan is in charge of the music programming at the festival annually and co-ordinates the astonishing and varied mix of music concerts.

It is anticipated that the music and drama group will meld together to create a new production for next year's festival - supported by the technical trainees.

Thirdly, the Lotteries are looking to underwrite, selectively, ticket prices to enable at least one major national production to come to the festival with the Lottery underwriting the costs and enabling the ticket prices to become affordable for festival-goers.

Fourthly and finally, the Lotteries will assist with administration and accommodation costs to enable these projects to happen.

To dove-tail with this initiative, the KZN Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism (Pietermaritzburg region) are negotiating to have funds included in their budget to ensure that the various community and developmental groups which were part of the Supersonics venue for emerging performers last year, will be able to have an integrated presence at the festival again this year.

"We are over the moon with the generosity of the National Lotteries Board," says Clarence. "Their incredible support and visionary innovations will enable us to diversify and grow the festival for this year and next. We are also incredibly excited at the prospect of having a phenomenal international actor participating in the festival with us. It will also be very helpful to be able to have reduced ticket prices for at least one of our major productions which will bring ticket prices within the reach of all of our festival goers. We would like to thank the Board, and the KZN Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism, and look forward to an exciting journey with them.

The 2007 Witness Hilton Arts Festival takes place from September 14 to 16 at Hilton College.




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