5 March 2019

South Africa: The National Arts Festival Is On, Despite the Drought

Photo: Gift of the Givers
(file photo)

As you are likely to have heard, our city, Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), is experiencing the effects of a severe drought -- the worst we've seen in 220 years. Still, we are prepared and look forward to seeing you between 27 June and 7 July.

The effects of the drought have been exacerbated by a largely inadequate and poorly maintained municipal infrastructure and, as a result, a large number of our residents have been battling to get water to attend to their everyday needs. It has been hard going for the past few weeks and, predictably, there has been some media coverage of the crisis.

In June we're set to host the 45th edition of the National Arts Festival in Makhanda and discussions have invariably turned to the impact the drought will have on us. A few people have said they might not attend the festival, believing either that they will not have access to water or that they will be an added burden on an already-fragile supply.

Some have even told me, or posted on social media, that they know the festival is either cancelled or moving to another city (Port Elizabeth seems to be the popular choice of these...

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