OVER­COMES BOUND­ARIES

Finweek English Edition - - LIFE - BY JO­HAN MY­BURG

and lec­tures) in the main pro­gramme. When the NAF cel­e­brated its 40th an­niver­sary last year, artists from over 40 coun­tries took part in more than 2 800 shows over a pe­riod of 11 days.

Though the in­hab­i­tants are not al­ways crazy about this for­eign in­va­sion – some of them rent out their houses for the du­ra­tion of the fes­ti­val and f lee from the town – Gra­ham­stown’s cit­i­zens truly re­alise the fes­ti­val’s eco­nomic im­por­tance.

This is also ap­par­ent from a study into the so­cial im­pact of the fes­ti­val, which was un­der­taken by Rhodes Uni­ver­sity’s eco­nomics depart­ment in 2013.

“We wanted to de­ter­mine how the fes­ti­val im­pacted on the way peo­ple so­cialise with each other, how it af­fects their im­pres­sion of the city and whether it makes a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to their daily lives,” says Pro­fes­sor Jen Snow­ball, one of the lead re­searchers.

The feed­back was that close to 80% of the par­tic­i­pants be­lieve that the fes­ti­val plays an im­por­tant role in de­ter­min­ing Gra­ham­stown’s iden­tity, and 70% reckon that the fes­ti­val is an event where peo­ple of dif­fer­ent cul­tures and back­grounds can meet and swap ideas.

Snow­ball in­ter­prets th­ese f in­d­ings as “an en­cour­ag­ing in­di­ca­tion that the fes­ti­val func­tions at a level that over­comes the bound­aries of race, class and cul­tural back­grounds”.

Ac­cord­ing to the study, the NAF con­trib­utes an es­ti­mated R349.9m to the econ­omy of the city and the Eastern Cape.

The study also found that vis­i­tors from be­yond the Eastern Cape spent a fur­ther R27.3m in the prov­ince be­fore and af­ter the fes­ti­val, and that the fes­ti­val con­trib­utes about R90m to Gra­ham­stown’s GDP via di­rect and in­di­rect spend, job cre­ation and tourism.

The chal­lenge is to let the def­i­nite artis­tic and eco­nomic im­pact of the NAF f low through to the poorer com­mu­ni­ties who form a large part of the Makana mu­nic­i­pal­ity, of which Gra­ham­stown is part. The un­em­ploy­ment rate in the Gra­ham­stown area is es­ti­mated to be more than 70%.

“We are thor­oughly aware of the di­vi­sions in Gra­ham­stown,” says Tony Lankester, CEO of the NAF. “But it is not some­thing that you can change on your own. We hope to make a dif­fer­ence dur­ing the short pe­riod that the fes­ti­val runs an­nu­ally.”

In the past there have been mal­con­tents who have com­plained that the fes­ti­val is “ex­clu­sive” and that it uses Rhodes Uni­ver­sity as a base.

Since 2010, the Fingo Fes­ti­val has been pre­sented dur­ing the NAF in Fingo Vil­lage, an area in Gra­ham­stown. This fes­ti­val in­cludes shows for chil­dren in the

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