Makhanda National Arts Festival officially launched

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The Mkhanda National Arts Festival is back live and full swing in Makhanda, Eastern Cape this year.

Scores of people flocked to Makhanda on Thursday night, anticipating what is supposed to be an art-filled three days to follow.

The festival opens a day after Health Minister, Dr. Joe Phaahla announced the scraping of COVID-19 regulations, as the country exits the fifth wave.

Festival organizers say this has resulted in a boost in sales. After a two-year virtual hiatus due to COVID-19 regulations, the Arts festival in the City of Saints has opened its doors.

For the next 10 days, Makhanda is expected to be abuzz with various performances on stage and artists showcasing their talents.

Festival CEO, Monica Newton says with COVID-19 regulations relaxed even further, the festival is showing much more promise.

Newton says, “It is a dream come true, to think that the regulations were scrapped just yesterday, even the tickets that were sold out are now back on sale. People are excited and I am excited. A lot of lovely activities will follow from here, the lineup is amazing.”

Massive blow

The festival also provides a perfect recovery platform for artists in the Eastern Cape, following a massive blow by the pandemic.

Acting Arts and Culture MEC Siphokazi Mani Lusithi says, “The artists were hit hard by the pandemic and this festival is their starting point as they recover. The online system was a wonderful platform but not as big as being live. We will also be working hard to develop them and provide more platforms.”

For the local tourism economy, the event speaks volumes.

Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism CEO, Vuyani Dayimani says, “I mean look a recovery point of view amid what was going on in the last two years, this festival will bring the much-needed boost to the economy of this region and also showcase the beauty of the small town. So we welcome this and hope people will enjoy but we are also making a call for them to do so safely.”

Festival organisers say they have also gathered a new virtual audience of over 150 000 people globally.

VIDEO: National Arts Festival back in full swing in Makhanda:

-By Lwando Nomoyi.