National Arts Festival calls for proposals for 2016 

Production posters around Grahamstown. Photo: Cuepix/Louisa Feiter

Production posters around Grahamstown. Photo: Cuepix/Louisa Feiter

The National Arts Festival (NAF) in Grahamstown is calling for proposals for the 2016 Main programme which runs from June 30 to July 10, 2016.

Artistic Director Ismail Mahomed explains: “We are looking for re-imaginations of classics to bold new premieres and the NAF is a dynamic platform that gives artists the opportunity to creatively experiment and engage with the human spirit.

“With productions that are informed by our complex and contested histories to productions that can inspire our collective optimism about contemporary society, the National Arts Festival Main programme is a celebration of how artists choose to comment and critique our society in compelling and creative ways.

“The National Arts Festival originated in 1974 as a Shakespeare festival and with the 400th anniversary of his death next year, will artists choose to make the 2016 Festival a memorable year in which Shakespeare is buried for good or reincarnated in new ways?

“Will the 60th anniversary of the Women’s March to Pretoria inspire women writers, directors and other artists to dominate the 2016 Main programme?

“Or, with the 40th anniversary next year of the Soweto Uprising, will artists create work that is politically inspired to challenge current realities?

“The NAF call for proposals is an open canvas. It gives artists the opportunity to shape our cultural conversations.”

Artists, companies and presenters can download a proposal brief from the Festival’s website. Proposals must reach the Artistic Director no later than Friday, September 11. All proposals must be submitted as per the proposal brief that is available on the Festival’s website

Inquiries should be addressed to the Artistic Director, Ismail Mahomed, at 046 603 1103 or by email at

Winners of the Standard Bank Ovation Awards will receive written invitations to submit proposals for the 2016 Arena programme.

Fringe applications will be available in October 2015 and registration will close on Friday, January 22, 2016. Forms and information booklets will be available on-line at Inquiries should be addressed to the Fringe Manager, Zikhona Nweba, at 046 603 1177 or by email at

The National Arts Festival is the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent. It takes place in the small university town of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape and the programme comprises drama, dance, physical theatre, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art exhibitions, film, student theatre, street theatre, lectures, craft fair, workshops, tours (of the city and surrounding historic places) as well as a children’s arts festival.

As no censorship or artistic restraint has ever been imposed on works presented in Grahamstown, the Festival served as an important forum for political and protest theatre during the height of the apartheid era. It continues to offer an opportunity for experimentation across the arts spectrum.

Keep in touch with the National Arts Festival at and, via the Facebook page: nationalartsfestival or follow the festival on Twitter @artsfestival

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