This year's Hands On! Masks Off! programme at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival has introduced a set of incentives, sponsored by the South African Post Office. Kline Smith from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Pietermaritzburg was awarded the first ever South African Post Office Cape Triangular Award for the best director and writer at the 2012 Student Theatre Festival.
The award acknowledges and honours the best work on the Student Theatre programme, which is aimed at catapulting emerging professionals participating in the Student Theatre Festival into the more complex creative economy.
Smith's show, Mob Feel
told the story of gang violence and ethnic rivalry that took place in the township of Westbury, Johannesburg in the 1950's. The performance is a love story with violence and passion, meshed with physical theatre and live music on stage. Based on the success of his production this year, Smith will be awarded a budget to create a production with a postal theme for the 2013 National Arts Festival Fringe lineup. The content for the production will be created in conjunction with subject matter experts from the South African Post Office.
Cash injection allows for growth
"Presenting at the National Arts Festival is something many performing artists dream about and never have the opportunity to experience," said Smith.
The cash injection garnered through SA Post Office's sponsorship, who have come on board for the first time this year, has allowed for tremendous growth at the student festival and afforded a record number of 16 institutions from across the country the opportunity to compete against each other at the festival. This year's Student Theatre Festival proved to be one of the highlights of the festival with full houses and top class productions.
The sponsorship forms part of a long term growth strategy for the SA Post Office to cultivate their investment in the local arts and culture industry. "We are passionate about nurturing arts talent in South Africa and providing exposure, encouragement and financial support to the youth. We are in the process of joining BASA [Business and Arts South Africa] and we hope that soon the SA Post Office will become a recognised brand associated with the arts industry," said Lungile Lose, SA Post Office group executive.