It starts ... slowly ... a creative giant gently opening one eye to stare out at a world arriving to watch it groove! That's always the Grahamstown National ArtsFest's first day - the slumbering megatron of a billion bits of creativity now beginning to wake. In a week's time, the freshly woken creative gargantuan of today will be in full-on arts and culture overdrive, as it heads into its last weekend. But right now as the first weekend of fest begins to loom just above the horizon like the dawn of dance, all is still, still - but getting mobile at an ever-quickening pace.
As I write this, show posters are flying onto every free wall space in Gtown - feverishly tied, taped, prestick'd, stuck, plonked, plastered, stapled, affixed with a hope and a prayer by thousands who have shows and exhibitions here - praying to every divinity they each believe in, that the audience will come. How anyone expects to stand out from a million images all silently screaming for visual attention, I don't know. And yet - there I was yesterday, putting up SunshiP gig posters, as I implored the gods of Rock and the granddaddies of Blues to send us audiences that love us!
Tomorrow night SunshiP plays its first gig. Tonight I go to my first show. Called "Double Standards", it's part of the Standard Bank Jazz Fest here at ArtsFest: Two drummers, two bassists, two pianists. I am excited! Anton, SunshiP's bassist, and I are going together - hopefully acquiring some double-inspiration from our musical counterparts, before we lay it all on the line tomorrow at our Lowlander gig.
Earlier on, I popped into a fantastic photo and interactive multimedia exhibition, which is part of ArtsFest's Think!Fest programme - an entire sub-festival focused on open discourse and dialogue through seminars, panel discussions and many other events, about the nation's most pressing issues of the day. Titled "Being & Belonging in South Africa", the exhibition is part of the Rhodes Journalism School's Mellon Foundation-funded festival Think!Fest programme on citizenship and democracy. The blurb says:
"If being a citizen in a democracy entails more than just voting every five years, then how active and engaged are South Africans as citizens? What real say do they have in the shaping of their democracy? And what role does the media play in enabling them (and especially those previously disenfranchised) to be active partners in deepening democracy?" Good questions. And a stunning exhibition! Look out for a young SA photographer called Sophie Smith. She has it in her to be one of the greats! For now though, I'm off to find my answers in music; and for the next 11 days, first and foremost, I'm going to be a citizen FestCity!
Chat tomorrow fundis! And hey - if I've made you slightly jealous, hop onto a plane and come!
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