Call for proposals: National Arts Festival 2016

The 2016 National Arts Festival will run from 30 June to 10 July 2016 in Grahamstown, South Africa. A call for proposals has been made for compelling, innovative and high-quality performances, exhibitions and cross-disciplinary works. The deadline for applications is Friday 28 August 2015.

Dancers perform in Amalangabi WoMgido in Grahamstown's City Hall during the 2015 NAF. Photo: CuePix/Jane Berg
Dancers perform in Amalangabi WoMgido in Grahamstown's City Hall during the 2015 NAF. Photo: CuePix/Jane Berg

The Festival intends presenting an artistic programme that continues to position the National Arts Festival prominently as a platform for innovation, experimentation, reflection and celebration. Proposals submitted by South African artists or companies will receive strong consideration if they engage and resonate with the complex social and cultural realities of South Africa and how these realities intersect or run parallel with the rest of the globe. The organisers are looking for bold, courageous work that contests the negative legacies that South Africa has inherited - and the challenges that the country faces today.

Proposals for performances submitted by non-South African artists or companies should demonstrate a track record of excellence. The productions should be able to offer new inspirations, innovative directions, critical or reflective narratives that can connect South African audiences with global experiences.

The National Arts Festival’s main programme is informed by the following programming criteria:

  • Premiere of new work: The National Arts Festival presents premieres of new productions and exhibitions by established and well-known South African and non-South African artists. South African premieres of non-South African productions which have been staged with acclaim at non-South African festivals and theatres will also be considered.
  • Cutting Edge Work: The National Arts Festival presents exciting new, cutting edge and provocative productions and exhibitions that can generate an active dialogue both in terms of its content and form.
  • Collaboration & co-production of new work: The National Arts Festival will consider proposals for collaborations with South African and non-South African artists and managements and / or festivals to co-produce work that may require more than one partner for the effective funding of productions with the proviso that such productions have strong artistic merit and will have its South African premiere in Grahamstown.
  • Multi-disciplinary presentations: The National Arts Festival recognises that an increasing number of South African artists are creating work that interfaces across genres and also with different forms of media. The Festival welcomes such proposal particularly in the way they reflect changing trends in arts practice and also in the way that such productions and / or exhibitions will appeal to a new generation of audiences.
  • Diversity: The National Arts Festival presents work that reflects the broad demographic of South African arts practice.
  • Development: The National Arts Festival creates special opportunities and platforms for newly emerging artists and historically marginalised performing arts companies to participate and grow through the festival’s various incubator programmes.
  • Accessibility: The National Arts Festival recognises that taking the arts into non-traditional spaces and outdoor public forums will provide audiences with “unexpected encounters with art”.

How to apply

Artists and managements intending to submit proposals must give consideration to the guidelines as outlined in this Call for Proposals. Technical specifications for the festival’s various performance and exhibitions is available on the festival’s websiteThe festival’s Artistic Director, Ismail Mahomed, is also available for consultation. Enquiries should be addressed to the Artistic Director, Ismail Mahomed, on +27 (0) 46 603 1103 or by email at Proposals must reach the Artistic Director no later than Friday 28 August 2015.

Winners of the Standard Bank Ovation Awards will receive written invitations to submit proposals for the 2016 Arena programme. Fringe applications will open in October 2015 and registration will close on Friday 15 January 2016. Forms and information booklets will be available on-line at Enquiries should be addressed to the Fringe Manager, Zikhona Nweba, on +27 (0) 46 603 1177 or by email at


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