The 48th National Arts Festival will take place from 23 June – 3 July 2022 and organisers are hoping it will be back to the live format. “It’s been two years of the unexpected and unpredictable; a journey that has taken us into new formats and ways of delivering work. We’ve developed skills and forged new partnerships helping us to rethink the Festival in ways we maybe wouldn’t have otherwise, but we are looking forward to a return to our live Makhanda experience,” says CEO, Monica Newton. 

The Festival is however realistic about the rapid changes in circumstance that the pandemic can bring. “There will be a plan B,” says Newton, “and we’re also looking at how we can deliver our live Festival in a way that balances safety with the spontaneity that a Festival inspires. Much can happen between now and June 2022, so we’re starting on our planning cycle and adjusting as the environment evolves.” 

The call for submissions for the Live Curated programme is now open and artists across all disciplines have until 12 November 2021 to submit their proposals via the online application form at

This call is for finished works that are for live production only. The call for the 2022 National Arts Festival Fringe will be announced separately. Another call will also go out for online works early in 2022. 

Says NAF Artistic Director, Rucera Seethal, “We know creativity and energy surges on and we’re ready to engage with artists about the Festival in 2022 after our own learning curves and these months of introspection and challenge.” Seethal said that there will be elements of the Festival that will spread outside of the eleven days of the event too. “We’re planning more artists residencies in Makhanda next year and we look forward to this immersive extension of the Festival’s impact.”  

Currently live festivals and events are enjoying a revival internationally, particularly where restrictions are being relaxed due to high vaccine prevalence. The Edinburgh Festival staged a hybrid Festival in August 2021, with 440 of its 700 shows happening in live, socially-distanced spaces. Sporting events, such as the postponed UEFA Euro 2020, took place in July with a crowd of 60 000 spectators and the London Marathon attracted 40 000 runners on 3 October.

In South Africa, SAFA has announced that they will give free tickets to vaccinated fans when Bafana Bafana face Ethiopia in a 2022 World Cup qualifier on 12 October. Festival CEO, Monica Newton says they will continue to watch this space, paying close attention to a changing regulatory environment. “We will work within the regulations to deliver the best and safest possible Festival with all the excitement of a return to community, creativity and possibility that a live NAF brings.”