The vision of the 1820 Settlers National Monument, and its implementing organisation, the Grahamstown Foundation, is:
The many and varied projects of the Grahamstown Foundation have been the purpose for the 1820 Settlers' National Monument since the Grahamstown Foundation’s incorporation in 1969, starting with the National Arts Festival in 1970 (before the Monument was built), and subsequently when the Monument doors opened in 1974. The projects realise the goals put in place by the Monument's early visionaries who held steadfastly to the strategy to erect a monument that would serve a useful purpose for all South Africans.
Since inception the Grahamstown Foundation’s projects have been built on the values of open debate, freedom of expression, speech and association. Projects were opened to all races from the mid-70s when the building first opened, despite the apartheid laws in place at the time that made the implementation of these values extremely challenging.
The 1820 Settlers' National Monument, and the Grahamstown Foundation which administers it, are important -
• locally, regionally, nationally and internationally in the fields of arts, culture, science and education;
• in acknowledging and honouring our many and varied cultures;
• in fostering the creation of a shared South African identity;
• to the tourism industry;
• as major contributors to the local, regional and national economy.
The Grahamstown Foundation has, over the years, recieved numerous awards. In recent years the Grahamstown Foundation received the following prestigious awards in recognition of the Foundation’s sustained and extraordinary commitment to the arts in South Africa.
• The 17th Annual Business Day Business Arts South Africa (BASA) Awards partnered by Hollard recognised two Foundation partner sponsors. These sponsors and projects were celebrated finalists at the awards on Monday 26 August 2014:
The De Beers English Olympiad - Development Award
The Sasol Free State/Northern Cape Schools Festival - Increasing Access to the Arts Award
• Impumulelo Platinum Award for the Amaphiko Township Dance Project - September 2012 - "Building Capacity for Service Delivery"
• The Business Arts South Africa Chairman’s Premier Award – August 2010
• The Molteno Gold Medal - December 2010
The Grahamstown Foundation has played a vital role in South Africa’s emerging democracy and, through the promotion of arts, culture, science and education, the Foundation continues to encourage freedom of expression, speech and social interaction in honour of the South African constitution. The fire that devastated the Monument in 1994, and led to the rededication of the Monument by President Nelson Rohlihlahla Mandela in 1996, highlighted the value and resilience of the institution as a living monument. Despite the devastating effects of the fire on the physical infrastructure, the heart of the institution continued to beat through the projects, including the Festivals, which were able to continue as they had done since the Monument doors opened in 1974.
In his rededication address in 1996 President Nelson Mandela acknowledged that the Monument had forcefully identified with change and the reconstruction of South Africa.