Popular Village Green will move to new site next year

The much-enjoyed Village Green craft, arts and food market will get a new, bigger home next year, National Arts Festival CEO Tony Lankester has announced.

CHANGE: The Village Green market, which operates during the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, at its present site at Rhodes University Picture: MICHAEL PINYANA

The 300 traders at the Rhodes University sports fields would next year set up shop at the Victoria School (VG) grounds, where they would slot into a new design and concept. Available space would be increased from 13000m² to 20000m².

The Rhodes sports fields, overlooked by the Steve Biko student building, once known as Kaif, would be affected by building operations in future, and this was one consideration for the move.

VG has been a staunch support of the festival, with at least three theatre venues, and now it will receive the massive buzz of the arty market, plus some rental.

The school also offers a lot of festival accommodation.

Traders pay R500 a day for a stall, which Lankester said was four to five times cheaper than other festival markets around the world. This year’s full rate of R5300 per stall would rise by R200 to R5500 next year.

The new design would see the long marquee tents being replaced by multiple smaller tents, different trading zones, a food court, beer tent, and spaces for performance, busking, and exhibitions, he told Grocott’s Mail and stall holders.

Lankester told the Daily Dispatch the Village Green, which will move for the fourth time since 1974, was in need of revitalisation. “The new venue will be more intimate and ‘villagey’.”


The new venue would also bring the market closer to the city centre, and “make it more accessible to those living in the township nearby”.

“It also has multiple access points for pedestrians and vehicles.”

Turning to festival attendance, Lankester said there had been a slight but not “alarming” drop. This was because of the recession and South Africans having less money to spend. Other possible factors were “more anecdotal and probably depend on where you’re coming from”.

“Many shows have enjoyed great success and the number of sold-out performances is definitely on a par with previous years.”



He said of the festival’s new executive producer, Ashraf Johaardien, appointed last year: “Ashraf has settled into his role extremely well and I think we will begin to see his fingerprints and influence all over the programme in years to come.” — mikel@dispatch.co.za


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