The Grahamstown National Arts Festival may perhaps be one of the most anticipated events in South Africa and yet the attendance has nothing to show for it, it is completely unjustified. This festival has been running for a number of years, it is an event that takes place annually. However this year’s event is by far the worst in terms of the attendance, hype and entertainment.
But what has caused this dilemma? What exactly went wrong and can it be rectified before it comes to an end, if possible at all? “The problem is that the festival was initially held in Village Green and now in Rhodes University, it is because of this that people are gradually losing interest in the Festival”, said one of the sub-wardens at Rhodes University. The lack of interest shown in this year’s festival is also affecting the number of people that go out and actually watch some of the stage productions.
We also have attended a few shows and have had to witness to the poor attendance. Some of these productions do not even fill half the venue. This should be a worrying factor amongst performers. I mean the main reason why they are here is to showcase their production, but it does not take a brain surgeon to realise that that the stage production cannot possibly succeed without the audience. With that being said, the numerous PR people attending good shows, may actually spread the word and for those who are performing again may at least stand a fighting chance at improving the audience’s attendance.
But sure enough, the show must go on. But this will not bring any comfort to the street vendors expecting to make decent sales during this festival. The decreased number of people around the festival in comparison with previous festivals will affect the vendors, in negative way, because chances of making adequate profit are very slim.
By Busisiwe Busenga and Sesethu Malgas