Press release: Call for entries – Eisteddfod 2020

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The National Eisteddfod of South Africa™ – a non-profit organisation and the largest eisteddfod platform in the country – is calling for entries for its 2020 National Eisteddfod season.

While many eisteddfod events and other festivals planned for 2020 have been cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 challenge, The National Eisteddfod Academy (NEA) is happy to announce that its national eisteddfod activities for 2020 will go ahead as planned.

Provisions have been put in place for whatever eventualities may arise from the prevailing lockdown level, and the NEA has introduced a new option for young performers – in addition to video-recorded entries, the NEA will now also be utilising technology to provide a virtual platform for participation. 

This new virtual performance mode will retain some of the excitement present in live performances:

  • It will be adjudicated in real time on an online platform
  • Participants will be able to watch the performances of other participants
  • Adjudicators will provide feedback at the end of each session.

The minimum requirements for a virtual performance include access to a smart phone, a stable internet connection, and data.

The NEA has always, in its promotion of the arts-in-education, emphasised the importance of eisteddfod activities for personal development and growth of all learners and now, considering the current trying circumstances, the therapeutic value of arts activities and the influence of the “magic of the arts” on young performers, cannot and should not, be ignored.

It was said by Albert Einstein that “it is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”. With the current situation this may prove to be particularly difficult for teachers to apply as schools are faced with the challenge of completing the required curriculum; and to reduce that “difficulty” some schools may well decide to cancel all activities that fall outside the core of their curricular requirements, including participation in eisteddfods. 

For young, talented performers these activities are an essential and meaningful part of their schooling and preparation for a future career path – the cancellation of performance opportunities is as devastating for learners with a passion for the arts, as the cancellation of sporting events is for young athletes.

Francois van den Berg, CEO of the NEA has put out an impassioned plea to schools not to cut out the arts because of the need to complete the curriculum. Quoting Einstein who said: “Schooling should provide the means for a child to embrace his natural interests, and pursue his chosen passions”, Van den Berg stated that: “It really must be kept in mind that for many learners, in many schools throughout the country, the arts are their chosen passion.”

Recognising the fact that many teachers were actively awakening joy in creative expression in the past by assisting/training learners in their preparation for participation in the eisteddfod, and that this may not be possible for some now, the NEA has implemented a new online platform where interested learners can make contact with members of the NEA Adjudicator’s Forum for the purpose of virtual online training in the arts. Van den Berg stressed that “the purpose of this online platform is certainly not to infringe on what teachers and studios do, but rather it is to provide for those learners who have no alternative solution”.

Minke Marais

The closing date for online entries has been extended to 31 July 2020 (with the possibility of a further extension if needed). 

Participants have a choice of three options of participation:

  • Live* performance – a live performance at a selected venue, in line with the requirements of the lockdown level at that time (include maintaining social distancing by limiting the number of participants in any given session and following the required sanitising protocol) *in the event of a worst-case scenario where no live performances will be allowed, all participants that selected the “live” performance option will be virtually adjudicated.
  • Virtual performance – the new virtual performance mode will maintain some of the excitement present in live performances – real time adjudication on an online platform with feedback – watch the performances of other participants. The minimum requirements: access to a smart phone, a stable internet connection and data.
  • Video recorded performance – the ideal alternative for participants in remote areas and other areas where a stable internet connection is not available.

Actual activity dates will only be determined once more information regarding the school terms is available; the prevailing lockdown level will also be a determining factor.

Selections of poetry in African languages, Afrikaans and English from previous NEA syllabi have been published on the online entry website; these poems can be used by learners who would like to prepare themselves for participation in the National Eisteddfod of South Africa© 2020. The material is copyright protected and may only be used by registered educators and participants for this purpose.

Full details regarding video and virtual entries will be provided on the webpage soon. Registered institutions and participants can access the 2020 NEA Prospectus online https://www.eisteddfod.co.za 

Basheer

Schools that wish to support children that cannot afford to participate in the national Eisteddfod can do so by adding an additional amount of R20/R50 or R100 to each entry that they submit. This support will have far reaching impact on those learners that will then be able to share in the magic of the arts.

“Taking part in eisteddfods benefits all participants – it fulfils a basic human need for respect and recognition and provides the aspiring performers with  the opportunity to perform on stage, to receive feedback from expert adjudicators and most of all, it gives anyone in the country an opportunity to experience the magic of the arts,” says Van den Berg.

Follow the NEA on:

The National Eisteddfod Academy (NEA) is a non-profit company that creates opportunities for youth development in the arts. The activities of the NEA provide various opportunities where young performers can develop and showcase their talents across the full spectrum of artistic and cultural diversity. Since the founding of the organisation in 1997 the annual NEA Eisteddfod activities have involved more than 536 000 participants in various rural and urban regions. Since the National Eisteddfod Academy launched the NEA Young Performers Award competition in 2004 close to 20 000 entries have been received for this competition that provides a next level of participation for young performers. The NEA also manages the National Eisteddfod of South Africa®, the largest eisteddfod platform in the country.

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