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The National Arts Festival is an important event on the South African cultural calendar, and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent. The festival has always been open to all regardless of race, colour, sex or creed. As no censorship or artistic restraint has ever been imposed on works presented in Makhanda, the National Arts Festival served as an important forum for political and protest theatre during the height of the Apartheid era.

The key Festival programme comprises a Main and Fringe programme. The Main Programme showcases curated works that have been selected by an Artistic Committee after a lengthy application and consideration period.

A parallel process by the Festival’s Executive Producer results in the Festival Selection, works that include productions made possible by partners and sponsors as well as a selection of plays or initiatives necessary to complete the programme both for artistic as well as strategic reasons.

Dance, theatre, music, performing art and visual art are all represented in this mix and audiences flock to these popular shows that include the work of the Standard Bank Young Artists. The Main Programme features international work as well as brand-new work from South Africa’s top talent.