The Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has expressed her support for the 2022 National Arts Festival and wished the organisers and performers every success for this year’s event. The 2022 festival coincided with Ms Mapisa-Nqakula’s visit to her constituency of Makhanda as part of her June constituency work programme.

The Speaker described the National Arts Festival as a joyous occasion for the people of South Africa, the province of the Eastern Cape and for Makhanda communities to welcome the return of the physical version of the National Arts Festival this year. “I am certain that this is also a momentous occasion for our various artists and performers, who for the past two years have not had an opportunity to perform here in the presence of the audience – an important ingredient in the artistic process.”

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been harsh on the arts and cultural sector, affecting livelihoods during the lockdowns. “It is our hope that as life gradually returns to normal, the recovery process will also bring positive results to the industry and allow the flourishing of the many artistic talents our country have to offer. We also wish that the recovery will also continue to support the emergence of new and upcoming talent, and that the sector will once again be as vibrant and viable as it was,” she said.

For the sector to recover, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula continued, it will need a lot of support and both the government and the private sector have a major role to play in this regard. According to Ms Mapisa-Nqakula, the absence of the festival, together with other restrictions in the tourism sector have had a huge negative impact on the economy of Makhanda area over the past two years. “We believe that the return of the festival and a new environment for economic activity will be a needed boost in the efforts for local economic recovery.”

Ms Mapisa-Nqakula met with the festival’s board before the start of the festival, who informed her that this year they have made every effort to ensure that the festival returns this year with a bang. The Speaker reminded the board that she was in Makhanda not only as the Speaker of the National Assembly, but also as the Member of Parliament for this constituency. It is in this capacity that Ms Mapisa-Nqakula pledged to be actively involved in supporting the festival and its contribution to the economy, the arts, education, and jobs in this area and beyond. She is excited and proud to be part of the festival and will make time, during the course of the remainder of her visit to the constituency, to enjoy some of the shows.

The National Arts Festival is a time for artists and visitors to gather, engage and celebrate. It showcases work across a range of disciplines and encourages range, versatility and innovation. Makhanda has been the home of the National Arts Festival since 1974 and no two festivals have ever been the same. What hasn’t changed the belief that the creative arts offer more than entertainment. The festival has deep roots in Makhanda and for decades the Monument has been a place where people from different walks of life gather to celebrate the arts.

The 2022 Festival continues to provide space for work that interrogates the country and world we live in, and expresses the viewpoints of diverse communities locally and across the globe. 2020 brought with it a new challenge – Covid-19. In 2021, a hybrid festival was planned that included three elements, Makhanda Live, an Online Festival, and Standard Bank Presents.

Mava Lukani
24 June 2022