Makana mayor says necessary steps have been taken to ensure no interruptions in services during arts festival

This coming weekend Makana Municipality will be hosting The National Arts Festival, and mayor Mzukisi Mpahlwa has assured residents and visitors of the municipality’s readiness.

The National Arts Festival is the largest arts festival on the African continent and one of the largest performing arts festivals in the world by visitor numbers.

“Makhanda completely transforms and explodes across 90 venues to become Africa’s largest multi-arts festival, attracting more than 200,000 visitors, who are here for more than 2,000 performances on a programme of more than 600 events,” Mpahlwa said in a statement.

Spread over 11 days and across 90-odd different venues in Makhanda, the festival enjoys strong participation from artists from all of South Africa’s nine provinces as well as a number of international artists and audiences visiting South Africa.

According to a study on the impact of the National Arts Festival conducted by Rhodes University Economics Department, led by Professors Geoff Antrobus and Jen Snowball, the festival is a significant driver of the economy of the City of Makhanda and the Eastern Cape Province, contributing an estimated R377.15-million to the province’s economy (2016).

Other key findings of the study include:

  • Main and Fringe shows were rated highly or very highly rated by more than 80% of visitors
  • More than 80% of visitors said the festival builds cultural and social capital; 72% social cohesion and 69% inter-cultural understanding.
  • 99% of those interviewed said they would recommend the event to others.

“Our city has played host to this important festival since 1974 when the 1820 Settlers Monument was officially opened. This 11-day spectacle brings together people from all around the world to witness the best work artists have to offer,” Mpahlwa said.

“This year’s event takes place under different conditions. Parts of our community are anxious about a number of things, namely, water, electricity, dirtiness, among others. With respect to electricity the municipality and Eskom have agreed on a revised payment plan which has become a court order. This guarantees that there won’t be any electricity supply disruption during the festival as a result of non-payment from the municipality. With regards to water, working together with a number of stakeholders the municipality has put in place plans to ensure that there is uninterrupted water supply.”

These include the following:

  • Infrastructure that will enable the municipality to transfer water from the James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works (WTW) to the Waainek WTW should the need arise.
  • This infrastructure will enable the municipality to transfer 3.5 mega litres of water per day from the James Kleynhans WTW to the Waainek WTW.
  • The 1820 Settlers Monument also has a borehole for backup.

“We are also continuing with the programme of cleaning the town and re-painting road markings. This is done in partnership with Makana Revive. I was also very happy to observe that some businesses in Bathurst Street have taken the responsibility to clean in front of their own businesses. We are also going to make sure that street lights are in working condition during the festival and beyond,” Mpahlwa said.

“In short we are pulling all the stops to ensure that we create the best conditions for the festival to take place.

“This is a national flagship taking place in our province. I would like to reiterate that we have put great effort in ensuring that we take all the necessary precautionary measures to see to it that there are no interruptions in services during the festival. I would also like to assure everyone who will visit our town for the festival and our local residents that the festival will take place without any interruptions. We look forward to another wonderful festival,” he said.

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