Virtual festival kicks off in style

Festival CEO Monica Newton says she is humbled by the support from donors, sponsors and the public.
Festival CEO Monica Newton says she is humbled by the support from donors, sponsors and the public.
Image: ROBYN DAVIE

The best is yet to come.

That was the feeling of some artists and organisers of the 2020 Virtual National Arts Festival (vNAF) following the successful launch of the inaugural virtual version of the much-loved festival.

The annual festival hosted in Makhanda was forced to go online due to strict restrictions prohibiting gatherings during the  Covid-19 pandemic.

But, little over three months of hard work and numerous technical glitches later, it has finally paid off.

Festival CEO Monica Newton said it had been a pretty crazy morning which was completely normal for the first day of the festival.

While they had experienced some technical issues with the login page, all had been resolved and  the best was yet to come, she said. .

“There have been a couple of technical glitches but we are solving those as they crop up. The interest from audiences and the media has been wonderful so far.

“We are really looking forward to seeing what the other 10 days of the festival hold,” Newton said.

She said she was humbled and touched by the support from donors, sponsors, and the public.

“MEC Fezeka Bayeni joined us at a press briefing this morning and reminded us how important the arts are for the health and wellbeing of the nation and it really hit home for me just how important this festival is to the province and the country.”

The opening day saw the likes of popular musicians Dumza Maswana, Spha Mdlalose, Port Elizabeth  Bhacasoul music artist, Joliza Magayiyana and many more take to the virtual stage.

Magayiyana said he initially had mixed emotions about the virtual festival but after watching himself performing on the pre-recorded show, he was convinced the festival would remain relevant and captivating for audiences.

“I don’t want to lie, I was nervous but after watching the performances I must say it was well recorded and perfect, I am happy,” Magayiyana said.

However, jazz musician Madlalose said it was a very different experience for her as she enjoys engaging with the audience during performances.

“A lot of the music has parts that audiences like to sing along to so, it was very strange not having that energy to feed off of,” Madlalose said.

“[But] it’s also important for a time like now when we’re relying on the arts to keep us sane and give us hope.

“I do think that when things have returned to normal and we are allowed to gather, it will be glorious.

“Live music is meant to be enjoyed live, so I cannot wait until corona is a thing of the past.”


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