Cape Town to play host to ‘cheeky’ new arts festival


17 April 2014

Cape Town is to host to a new performing arts festival that will be modelled on some of the world’s most popular fringe festivals, Tony Lankester, the chief executive of the National Arts Festival, announced on Tuesday.

The Cape Town Fringe is a spin-off of the National Arts Festival, which is traditionally held in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape in July. It is a partnership with the City of Cape Town.

The festival, which will be held in September, will feature “young, dynamic and cutting-edge work” from some of the South Africa’s leading theatremakers, Lankester said.

‘Bold, innovative’

“The fringe model rests on two pillars. Firstly, the nature of the work on a fringe is such that it is bold, innovative, exciting and it pushes boundaries for both artists and audiences.

“Secondly, a fringe festival has a business model behind it which encourages independence and sustainability, while costs are shared between performers,” Lankester said.

The Cape Town Fringe aims to present around 40 productions in venues across the city as well as in areas such as Langa township.

“Access is critical to the success of a fringe and was a big factor in our decision to proceed with this project,” said Ian Neilson, Cape Town’s deputy mayor and acting mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing.

The City of Cape Town has committed to partner on the project for three years, provided the event meets certain attendance and participation targets. “We want this event to not only enrich the lives of residents, but also to create jobs, contribute to the economy and drive tourism,” Neilson said.

Call for proposals

A public call for proposals was made at the event’s launch on Tuesday. Ismail Mahomed, the National Art Festival’s artistic director, said the organisers would be looking for work that was “brash, bold, cheeky, outspoken, confident, socially aware and independent”.

“The fringe model means that productions will pay a modest registration and venue- hire fee, and then take the lion’s share of the box office,” Mahomed said. “The fringe itself then manages the bulk of the marketing, ticket sales, venue setup and all the staffing, financial, technical and legal requirements for the event.”

Cape Town’s City Hall will be the home base of the event, featuring several performance venues and a “fringe hub” where artists, audiences and the media will be able to gather.

World Fringe Alliance

The National Arts Festival is a member of the World Fringe Alliance, a grouping of nine fringe festivals around the world which collectively reach an audience of more than 3-million people. Alliance members are the festivals in Grahamstown, Hollywood, New York, Edinburgh, Brighton, Prague, Amsterdam, Perth and Adelaide.

“We’re building the Cape Town Fringe on this bedrock of global best practice,” said Lankester, who is the founding chair of the alliance. “Through our network we will be able to bring some great international productions to Cape Town, and continue creating opportunities for our artists to travel the world.”

  • The Cape Town Fringe will run from 25 September until 5 October. The call for proposals is open.
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SAinfo reporter