When I moved to Makhanda in January this year and joined the National Arts Festival team, I was changing my life; changing jobs, creating a new career path, moving to a new city and taking on brand new challenges. As I entered the New Year, there was no way I could have predicted how the entire world, and not just my tiny life, would begin to change. By March 2020, it was clear that this was not any ordinary year.
We were faced with a critical decision. Word was that theatres were going to close, events would be cancelled, travel curtailed. We saw the writing on the wall. The 46th National Arts Festival was under grave threat.
Making the decision to go online was not taken lightly; we considered all options available and decided that this route would be best for the arts community, for the Festival and of course, our loyal donors and sponsors; the Eastern Cape Province, Standard Bank of South Africa, Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Sarah Baartman District Municipality, Eastern Cape Provincial Tourism Agency and Business and Arts South Africa. We knew however, that there was one major stakeholder that would derive the least benefit from our decision, the City of Makhanda, its residents and businesses.
This leaves us with a heavy heart as Makhanda is our home! The gracious hosts of our 11 Days of Amazing; we are a town that is synonymous with the arts, late night post-show chats and chilly evenings huddled up in theatres, restaurants and rental homes as the Festival unfolds across the town. For the first time in decades our winter holiday streets are quiet.
Where possible, we