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11 days of ‘amazing’ ahead as National Arts Festival officially opens

The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown contributes R349 936 380 to the Eastern Cape economy.

Rowin Munsamy and Shona Johnson in 'Copy Dog's Fantastical Flea Circus' that will be showing at the National Arts Festival.Picture: National Arts Festival

JOHANNESBURG - The curtain has gone up on the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and the city is buzzing in anticipation of the jam-packed programme of shows and events that lie ahead.

The event was officially opened by the Department of Arts and Culture's Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who was accompanied by his Deputy Minister, Rejoice Mabudafhasi.

The department has just announced an extension of their funding agreement with the arts festival and will invest R17 million in the event over the next three years.

Speaking at the press conference on Wednesday, Mabudhafasi pointed to the festival's massive contribution to the economy of the province as being a key reason for the re-investment by the department.

Mabudhafasi highlighted the platform it gives, particularly, to crafters and SMMEs to derive economic benefit from their work.

The National Arts Festiva l contributes R349 936 380 to the Eastern Cape economy and the impact on the Grahamstown economy was last measured at R90 690 259 in 2013.

Standard Bank is one of the key sponsors of the popular festival.

Standard Bank Head of Group Sponsorship Hazel Chimhandamba says, "Standard Bank has had a long and proud relationship with the National Arts Festival which provides a stage to both nurture young talent and show case the rich diversity of our creative arts."

"The programme comprises the multi-disciplinary Standard Bank Young Artist Awards, which will feature 2016 awardees Jade Bowers, Themba Mbuli, Mohau Modisakeng, Avigail Bushakowitz and Siya Makuzeni, some of which will be premiering their works," she adds.

The National Arts Festival also welcomed the National Lotteries Commission's R 10 million sponsorship of the Fringe.

Fringe artists have also received a R1000 rebate on their production costs as a result of the sponsorship.

The festival's CEO, Tony Lankester says, "If people are feeling spontaneous, there is still some space just outside of Grahamstown and in the outer-lying regions - and there may be last minute cancellations so give it a try." Equally, he urged Eastern Cape residents to make a day trip to Grahamstown to enjoy this "iconic event on their doorstep".

The Festival runs until 10 July.

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