Our sponsors do.

Less than 10% of our income comes from ticket sales (because, on the Fringe, most ticket sales revenue goes to the artist). The rest we have to raise from corporate sponsors and public entities such as the government, the National Lotteries Commission and so on.

So if you see a sponsor’s branding anywhere during the Festival, make a note of who they are and please do your best to support them, both during the Festival and throughout the year.  They put a lot of their resources into the National Arts Festival and we keep telling them how amazing our audiences are… prove us right!

Our Travel and Stay page has detailed information on planning a trip to Grahamstown. The two closest airports to Grahamstown are in East London (about a two-hour drive to Grahamstown) and Port Elizabeth (about one-and-a-half hours).

If you are coming from overseas, you will fly into either Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban before catching a connecting flight to PE.

We operate regular shuttles from the airport in Port Elizabeth to Grahamstown throughout the Festival.

Firstly, great. We’d love to have you too. But there are a couple of things you need to know first because, with about 600 productions staging 2500 performances, we have to have some pretty rigid rules in place. In the previous question we explained the difference between the Main, Arena and Fringe, and detailed the deadlines we follow for each. Read that, and apply within the deadline and your chances of coming to the Festival increase from 0% to something better than that!

You’d be amazed (or maybe you wouldn’t) how many people email us, phone or stroll into our offices in the weeks and days before the Festival asking if they can perform. Sometimes people come to us after the Festival has started demanding we find them a slot. The reality is we don’t build a whole lot of venues, leave them empty and then sit around hoping you’ll call. Every venue we have is jam packed by the time we publish our programme in May and there is a long waiting list of people begging to be allowed in. If you need help filling the forms in please call us – we’re very friendly and will help you through the process (we know it can be daunting for first timers) and we will give you tons of great advice. If you come to us before the deadline.

The Fringe is open access and, as long as you apply by the deadline, you’ll be given slots on the programme (the one exception is in the Contemporary Music category which has a brief selection process – but we are sure you’re amazing so that should pose no problems!).

Unfortunately we simply can’t accommodate productions who miss the deadline. And, if we can indulge in a bit of tough love: If you are only deciding to come to the Festival a couple of weeks before it starts, chances are you haven’t rehearsed enough to make a go of it and wow the audiences here.  Trust us – we’re doing you a favour by forcing you to plan ahead.



The Main Programme

The Main Programme comprises work contracted by the National Arts Festival each year. We put out an annual call for proposals, and the deadline for submission is usually around August each year for the following Festival. You’ll find the Call for Proposals document in the Artist Zone section of our website, where we lay out very clear guidelines for submissions.

As part of your submission you need to include a detailed budget. Based on that, and the strength of the proposal, your production may get selected and an offer will be made to you. If you accept the offer, we cover all the costs of staging your show in Grahamstown and you earn the agreed fee as per your budget. All the ticket sales revenue comes to us, except for 10% that goes to cover ticketing commissions and expenses.

The Fringe

Then there is the Fringe, which is a completely open-access programme. Anyone can perform on the Fringe just by filling in a form and paying a registration fee, which includes a refundable venue rental deposit. The venue rental is per performance, and varies depending on the size of the venue. So, in essence, you come to Grahamstown, market and stage your show, and leave with about 80% of the box office (10% goes to the Festival, and 10% goes toward ticketing costs and commissions).
Fringe registration is open each year during October, and you have about four months to get your forms in to us.

If you’re serious about taking part in the Fringe, we suggest you pop along to the Artist Zone and read our various guides, which include loads of useful and important information.

The Arena

Finally, in between the Fringe and the Main, is the Arena. This is where we showcase work from productions and companies who have won either a Standard Bank Ovation Award on the Fringe, or an international award at one of our partner festivals. If you win such an award you can submit a proposal for the next year’s Arena. The deal here is midway between the Fringe and Main – we cover some costs (transport, accommodation, per diems, registration, venue hire and some of the marketing costs etc), but we don’t contribute to the production itself. The Festival and the company then split the box office, after the ticketing commission, 60% to the company, 40% to the Festival.