For the second consecutive year, audiences at the National Arts Festival dipped their hands in their wallets to show appreciation to South African artists who can no longer perform due to illness or infirmity.

The National Arts Festival, Grahamstown and the Theatre Benevolent Fund (TBF) partner on the first Monday of the Festival to raise the profile of the TBF and support the work of the Fund. This year, audiences at the National Arts Festival contributed R54 000.00 towards the Theatre Benevolent Fund and the Standard Bank provided a matching contribution to raise the total amount to R108 000.00.

“We extend our appreciation to our generous audiences who have demonstrated their compassion for the artists who have entertained and inspired them over the years,” said the Festival’s Artistic Director Ismail Mahomed, when he jointly presented a cheque with Standard Bank arts sponsorship manager, Mandie van der Spuy to the Theatre Benevolent Fund.

“We are also grateful to our sponsor Standard Bank for matching the contribution raised by audiences at the Festival. This is a wonderful indicator that the Festival, our audiences, our sponsor and the Theatre Benevolent Fund have a shared vision and passion to allow artists to enjoy their dignity even when they are in their twilight years” he added.

The TBF is a welfare and humanitarian fund that helps maintain the dignity of professional performers after they have taken their last bow and the curtain has fallen on their working lives. The Fund supports individuals who have been connected to the performing arts on a professional basis, and who now find themselves in financial difficulties due to old age or ill health, by providing care to them in the form of monthly financial grants; donations for funeral expenses; assistance with medical expenses; placement in care centres or old age homes.

“The Theatre Benevolent Fund was overwhelmed by the generosity of Standard Bank, in agreeing to match all donations made by the public and the National Arts Festival during the 2013 Festival, effectively doubling the amount. Thank you to everyone who contributed, especially Standard Bank. Reaching six figures seems almost too good to be true, and this has been a wonderful display of caring for our beneficiaries. We have so many needy people to support and rely totally on donations to keep going.” said Peter Terry, from the Theatre Benevolent Fund.

“The TBF fulfils a vital need in the arts community and we are pleased to be able to make a contribution towards the improvement of the lives of many who brought us entertainment over the years,” responded van der Spuy.

For more info on the Theatre Benevolent Fund and how to help, see www.tbf-sa.co.za.

The 40th edition of the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown will take place from 3 to 13 July 2014. See staging.codelikeclockwork.com/naf2015, or the National Arts Festival Grahamstown on Facebook, or @artsfestival on Twitter, for more information.

The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Eastern Cape Government, Department of Arts and Culture, National Arts Council, City Press and M Net.

Ismail Mahomed, Hendrik van der Hoven, Mandie van der Spuy and Peter Terry pic by Suzy Bernstein