The National Arts Festival has long been known for its diverse Fringe platform, a large section of the programme that is reserved for independent creatives to showcase self-funded work. During the live Festival, this is the space to debut new and experimental work, explore interesting collaborations, or just ‘test the boards’ as a new actor, playwright, artist, musician or dancer. Having moved to online in 2020 and 2021, the Festival has retained the Fringe space and, during challenging times for the arts, made it as affordable as possible for artists to stage their work digitally. There were no registration fees for the online shows and artists take home 90% of the proceeds from their ticket sales.
“It’s an important space to hold as the online vs in real life stages blur,” Says Fringe manager Zikhona Monaheng, “Artists, and particularly young artists, are really showing up in the space; blending elements of film, live concert and documentary formats as they explore and experiment with presenting work online and develop a sense of possibility for digital.”
The Fringe is best experienced as a ‘lucky dip’ but the Standard Bank Ovation Awards are a good indication of work that has been watched and commended by a panel of judges. This year’s Gold Standard Bank Ovation Award winners were The Shack (a seven minute piece that explores the notion of home within grinding poverty) and Gone But Not Forgotten, a musical tribute by Cape Town musician Chadleigh Gowar to those we have lost during the last 18 months. All the Standard Bank Ovation Awards can be found here.
The National Arts Festival will continue to offer artists the platform to host work throughout the remainder of the year. This work will not be affiliated to the Festival programme and productions must market their own work. “The online space affords artists much greater freedom of access than a real life staged work, they quite literally have a global market, but the tradeoff is that there is even more competition for attention online,” says NAF CEO Monica Newton, “artists need to invest in their marketing skills, think of ways to stand out in a sea of content and grow their own community of fans.”
The National Arts Festival’s long-term partner Standard Bank also stepped in this year to offer the public a chance to send messages of support to the artists on the Fringe, through the Bank of Dreams https://arts.standardbank.co.za. The creative digital portal translates messages into money for the artists on the Fringe and the public still has time to leave their message.
Both the National Arts Festival Fringe Live and The Bank of Dreams end on 31 August 2021.
Visit and explore the National Arts Festival Fringe at https://nationalartsfestival.co.za/the-fringe/
Featured Image: Gold Standard Bank Ovation winner, The Shack