National Arts Festival goes virtual

Xova from The South African State Theatre is presented at Victoria Theatre during the 2019 festival. PHOTO: MARK WESSELS

The National Arts Festival is going virtual this year with a programme that includes visual art and an exciting and eclectic collection of online works from South Africa and the world that will be available to view and explore from June 25 to July 5.

The festival’s annual Makhanda takeover normally includes the transformation of dozens of spaces in the city into temporary art galleries.

This year, it will all happen digitally with visitors able to view the work from the comfort of their own homes.

Using a variety of technologies, the curated programme includes 2020 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art, Blessing Ngobeni, Pitika Ntuli’s solo exhibition Azibuyele Emasisweni (Return to the Source) which features works sculpted in bone, and Phumulani Ntuli’s Frequencies of a Birthmark Episode 1.

This is just a taste of the selection of works soon to be announced.

There will also be a vibrant Fringe visual art element to the Virtual National Arts Festival this year, and artists are invited to exhibit their work online as part of Fringe 2020.

“We have facilitated this space for artists to showcase their work and also for buyers to be able to connect directly with artists and potentially even commission works,” said National Arts Festival Fringe manager, Zikhona Monaheng.

“This is a great opportunity for artists who may not ordinarily be able to attend the festival to exhibit through this virtual channel.”

Artists will be provided with a page on the festival’s website where they can display examples of their artwork in a digital exhibition format.

The festival will not provide e-commerce facilities and viewers wishing to commission or purchase artwork will be able to access the contact details, websites and social media details of the artists.

“The idea is to provide a showcase platform to enable visual artists to exhibit their work and for festival viewers to experience a user-friendly virtual exhibition.

“We hope that audiences who may not traditionally visit art exhibitions during the live festival, will, this year, find time to browse through these virtual galleries,” said Virtual National Arts Festival CEO Monica Newton.

Registration to participate is free of charge.

Artists need to complete the participation form on the festival website’s Artist Zone, submitting good quality images and other details that will appear in their virtual gallery.

Work will be pre-moderated to ensure that images comply with universal guidelines for online presentation.

Submissions for artists’ work is now open and will close on June 15.

The full programme will be announced mid-June.

Marietta Lombard

Caxton Newspapers