HON. NN MAPISA-NQAKULA, MP, SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND CONSTITUENT MP FOR THE MAKHANDA CONSTITUENCY - 23 JUNE 2022:
Chairperson and Members of the NAF Board
Various artist and performers
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed a joyous occasion for the people of our country, the Province of the Eastern Cape and for the communities here in Makhanda, 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 particularly harsh on the arts and cultural sector, wiping off both livelihoods and lives over the periods of the lockdown.
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.
Of course, for the Sector to recover, it will need a lot of support, and I believe that both government and the private sector have a major role to play in this regard.
The forced absence of the Festival itself, together with other restrictions in the tourism sector, also had a huge and negative impact on the economy of this 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.
So, while we may be deep in the winter, this beautiful Festival of dance, music and theatre, should symbolize the Spring season of renewal for the arts, culture and for the people of Makhanda. Despite the cold of the winter, I know the Festival will bring colour and vibe, reverberating warmth and goodwill across all of our land.
I had an opportunity to meet with the Board of the Festival earlier today and I must say that this year they have pulled all the stops to make sure that the Festival indeed returns with a bang. I am here today, not as just the Speaker of the National Assembly, but also as the Member of Parliament for this Constituency.
It is in that capacity that I also pledged to be actively involved and make our contribution both in support of the Festival and in its contribution to the economy, the arts, education, and jobs in this area and beyond.
I’m indeed very excited and proud to be part of something so big and historic and will also make time, during the course of the remainder of my visit to the Constituency, to pop in and enjoy some of the shows too.
We thank all the artists, performers and those behind the scenes who have been part of the creation of various productions for this year’s show. We also believe that your return and performances here this year, will also be in honour of the memories of the many creatives, your colleagues, who lost their lives to the Covid-19 pandemic. We continue to celebrate them and the legacy they have left us.
We wish this the 2022 Edition of the National Arts Festival all the success.