Press release: Pieces fall into place for reimagined festival

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The Virtual National Arts Festival programme is slowly starting to emerge – it has been cocooned away as our curatorial committee got to grips with reimagining what this festival could become. Now, just short of 30 days before “lift-off.”, we are leaning in to its complexities.


The festival’s website is readying itself to become a virtual stage: all events will be accessed through the website portal – both curated work and un-selected “fringe” events. The curated programme is a schedule of events that will be released each day from 25 June to 5 July. These daily programmes will consist of pre-recorded performances (theatre, music, dance), films, live broadcasts, visual art “walkabouts, workshops, and more. These programmes have been carefully curated around a theme and the preamble to each day’s programme will provide the framework for that day’s offerings. 

The Virtual Fringe (vFringe) is a pay-per-view platform where anything goes! Well, almost. We will be carefully monitoring submissions to make sure they’re in line with universally accepted online presentation standards. But, that said, similarly to the Fringe in Makhanda, this is where you will find artists experimenting with their creative instincts – bending the rules to fit this new world. Here you’ll find comedy, performance art, cabaret, magic (of course) and lots more. Tickets will be priced from R25 and we hope you’ll support all our artists as they, together with you, explore this new digital space.

  • Read more about how it will all fit together on our website

Online exhibitions open infinite possibilities

While there are many changes ahead as the National Arts Festival moves into the digital realm, visual art remains a constant on the programme. A wide-ranging and eclectic collection of works from South Africa and beyond will be available to view and explore online between 25 June and 5 July. 

Sirqus Alphonse at the 2019 National Arts Festival (Photo: Mark Wessels)

Using a variety of technologies, the curated programme of the Virtual National Arts Festival 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, a Creative Digital Arts exhibition that explores clan name lineage and histories in a virtual reality architectural walkthrough. This is just a taste of the selection of works soon to be announced.

There will also be a vibrant visual art element on the vFringe this year, with artists invited to exhibit their work online on a new-look, multifunctional National Arts Festival website that is currently under wraps. 

Opportunities for artists

The Fringe in 2020: Artists wishing to take part in the vFringe, a new digital platform created especially for artists to showcase their work as part of the Virtual National Arts Festival as well as earn an income online, should visit the Artist Zone on the NAF website for more information.

Visual art on the vFringe: Visual artists who would like to exhibit their work on the new-look National Arts Festival website as part of the online vFringe galleries should get in touch as soon as possible. Find out the details and fill in the online form here.  

Also read 

The annual National Arts Festival goes virtual amid corona crisis

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