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The Grahamstown Foundation

Projects » South African Schools' Festival

Think…Breathe…Be Creativity

The South African Schools Festivals bring 6000 South African learners and their teachers to the threshold of artistic, educational, dramatic and social enrichment.

Aimed at grade 11's and 12's, the Schools Festivals programme meets the need for a varied Arts curriculum in Schools while:

  • Developing within our youth a passionate interest in, and a love for, the Arts and culture of South Africa;
  • Encouraging learners to nurture an open mind, and to face new things, and the unknown with enthusiasm and maturity; 
  • Encouraging creative interaction amongst different cultures;
  • Promoting personal growth and encouraging the development of individual potential.

Each Festivals gives delegates an intense Arts experience in an instructive mix of lectures, theatre productions and workshops.

Regional Festivals take place in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Free State/Northern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga and in Gauteng.

The Standard Bank National Schools' Festival takes place in Grahamstown in July.

Participants from across a wide economic divide get to literally ‘rub shoulders’ because the festivals attract large numbers of participants from the most rural schools to the wealthiest urban areas. This interaction forms an integral part of the overall Arts Education programme, promoting collaboration, communication and direct interaction in a non-threatening, neutral, creative environment. Most importantly, the participation in these programmes engenders self-esteem and confidence, and facilitates the discovery of the value of co-operation, empathy and self realisation.

Each year a total of 6000+ high school learners in grades 11 and 12, teachers and artists participate in the South African Schools' Festivals across all provinces. A National Schools' Festival for grade 12s takes place in Grahamstown. Through lectures, workshops and performances delivered by professional artists, participating high school learners are exposed directly to the arts, thereby increasing their knowledge and appreciation of the arts, strengthening their artistic and creative thinking skills, while being exposed to possible career options and being empowered by the way in which the arts facilitates life choices.

Professional artists recruited to lecture, run workshops and perform at the festivals increase their exposure to new audiences, and benefit from audience feedback on their work.

Over 38 years, successive generations of high school learners participating in the South African Schools Festivals have developed as artists and/or arts audiences. Participating artists strengthened the quality of their work and productions, while contributing to the development of audiences and knowledge of the arts. High schools benefited by having their arts education programmes enriched, or by introducing arts education programmes where none existed previously.


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