Organisers of one of South Africa’s popular arts festivals, Innibos, have been forced to come up with alternative ways for this year’s festival due to COVID-19.

The festival previously held at the Bergvlam High School playground in the City of Mbombela, Mpumalanga, is usually attended by thousands of people. However, this year, it is taking place at the Ilanga Mall in the city as festivals are prohibited under the current COVID-19 lockdown.

A female flute player walking around Ilanga Mall entertaining Innibos Arts Festival-goers and shoppers.

For the past two years, the Innibos annual arts festival was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival is not only attended by locals, but also international tourists.

Artists are happy that the organisers have made strides to bring back the festival.

Comedia Wynand van Vollenstee says, “I believe the artists have always been resilient. They’ve always stood up, and I think this will happen again. What’s expected about my new one-man show is comedy. I think it’s a time where South Africans as a whole want to laugh. We don’t want to see sad stories. We are living that at the moment. In every industry, there are changes and sorrow. So, I think people want to laugh. My show is absolute, absolute comedy.”

Actress Lizz Meiring says, “And I’m here at the Innibos Mall of the Innibos Arts Festival on heritage weekend. To me, the concept of heritage cannot happen without the artists. What are the stories we to tell? Who designed the clothes? Who makes the colours? Who does the artwork? Who are the architects? Who are the people who have made the objects that have become part of our heritage? Whatever our heritage maybe.”

The festival still includes showcasing crafts and performances in different stages.

Innibos festival lovers have expressed their excitement.

Innibos Spokesperson Sandra Jacobs hopes that the festival will also provide a financial boost to the sector that has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“And the public is really suffering. The festival used to bring an economic injection of more than R80 million to our region which was lost due to the fact that we couldn’t have a festival. So, we were very pleased when Ilanga Mall came to us with the idea of hosting the festival here. So, like in medieval times, we took the odds back to the marketplace. We’re giving jobs to artists. We’re giving joy to people, and we are also stimulating the economy by doing this.”

The Innibos Art Festival kicked off on Thursday and it will end on Saturday.