Arts & Lifestyle Artists embrace the digital space for VNAF2020

Artists embrace the digital space for VNAF2020

The National Arts Festival will stage a virtual festival this year. Picture: NAF

Artists across SA have had to find ways to adjust to the digital space and this year’s National Arts Festival (VNAF2020) is no different.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused disruption across many sectors and the arts in particular are highly dependent on human interaction, DispatchLIVE reports.

With the National Arts Festival having unveiled its plan to stage a virtual festival this year, organisers on Friday hosted the first part of a webinar series on creating work for digital platforms.

There were several renowned artists on the panel, among them actor, comedian, writer and director Rob van Vuuren; Eastern Cape composer, trumpeter and vocalist Mandisi Dyantyis; ((SUBS CORR)) and performing artist, choreographic activist and model Thandile Mbatsha. The panelists spoke about the importance of maintaining a “sound mind” during the lockdown to aid the creative process.

Mbatsha said many artists were facing challenges, including a shortage of resources, under the lockdown. However, he encouraged them to remain positive and work with what they have.

“There are notable struggles around resources and logistics when creating art for such a platform, however an optimistic mind is valuable for an artist.

It may be a cliche but the moment your mind is in a positive mode [of] thinking, it becomes open to critical thinking and creating work.” Van Vuuren said maintaining mental health was important: “Artists must implement a non-negotiable self-care regime that will get them out of their head and into their body. “Prioritise your mental and physical health.

We need to acknowledge this moment and trauma it has brought onto the industry, and take the time to grieve. Then, artists can build from there.

“This [Covid-19] may be the most disruptive thing to have happened to the entertainment industry but there is also a silver lining. “Now, there are no rules and the possibilities are endless with the type of content you can produce. We may be at the genesis of a creativity revolution.”

Van Vuuren has seen artists “get creative with the space and the tools they have”. “Some are working from their garages at home to create studios and using their phones to record the content.” Dyantyis says live-streaming was now being embraced more than ever. “It is travelling and reaching places we couldn’t physically occupy.

“I performed for an audience of 47,000 recently and I wouldn’t have dreamt that I would ever physically perform for so many people.

“Being thrown into this time of coronavirus was at first a scary and lonely feeling, where I crawled into a shell. “It has been a mental shift and it may take some time.”

The Virtual National Arts Festival starts on June 25 and will be shared on the festival website at

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