KKNK 2021 postponed for now due to pandemic

The Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) will not take place from 31 March until 6 April next year. After due consideration and having regard to the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, the management and board of the KKNK have decided to postpone the festival for the present. 

“Although we were looking forward to returning to Oudtshoorn for the festival at the start of April 2021, the health risks and the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic remain a concern,” Hugo Theart, the festival’s Artistic Director, says. “Rising infection rates throughout the country necessitated this decision.”

The decision wasn’t taken lightly or unilaterally, says Crispin Sonn, Chairperson of Kunste Onbeperk, the organisation that presents the KKNK. “After consultations with our partners, sponsors, the Oudtshoorn municipality and the Western Cape government, the consensus was that a festival around the Easter Weekend posed too much risk to all the parties concerned – local residents, visitors and artists. Postponement is the responsible decision, but it doesn’t call into question our commitment to and support for the artists and communities,” Sonn says. 

“The board, management and all our partners have been in discussions about all possibilities for some time, and we are constantly evaluating the situation. We simply have to take the statistics and the global trajectory of the pandemic into account to take considered decisions. We will discuss the situation again in January and explore new dates for a festival.”

Absa, the festival’s chief sponsor, supports the decision. “Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way we interact as a society and a business,” says David Wingfield, Managing Executive Group Marketing and Brand.

“Absa fully supports the decision of the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival to postpone the festival that was planned for the first week of April. Whatever the new year holds, we remain committed to the Klein Karoo, the arts community, and the plans the KKNK are working on to keep the Arts alive, whether a celebration of togetherness – or safe, virtual events. The safety and health of the communities we serve and the would-be festival-goers are our key priority. We find ourselves in very uncertain times with the pandemic and we implore everyone to please stay safe and to practice all hygiene and social distancing protocols. We remain committed to adhering to all these protocols and will continue playing a shaping role in society through our compliance with these measures.”

The KKNK has provided a significant economic boost to Oudtshoorn and the surrounding towns since 1995. The Covid-19 pandemic has severely damaged the local economy. The KKNK will therefore work closely with among others the Western Cape Government, Oudtshoorn Municipality, the Oudtshoorn Chamber of Commerce, other partners in the region, sponsors and donors to explore initiatives that will not only support the town and its residents in 2021, but in particular also the community of artists who come from all over the country to entertain festival goers year after year.

“It is in the nature of the arts industry to always think creatively, and progressive plans are especially important now,” says Theart. “The KKNK already embarked on a variety of projects and initiatives in 2020 to support creative communities during lockdown. In 2021 we will continue to build on the wealth of online content and activities that have already been created, with the first projects being launched in January. As an organisation we are committed to supporting the Arts community, the community of Oudtshoorn as well as our other partners. The KKNK has long-standing relationships with sponsors and donors who support us and believe in the festival, and we are grateful that they are working with us to unlock new possibilities.” 

A year-long festival programme is being planned for 2021, which will include several online music concerts and theatre performances, conversation series, master classes, documentaries, development projects and more. Special music concerts and theatre productions are also envisaged for Oudtshoorn and elsewhere in the country, and will be devised around the necessary safety measures and health protocols.

Media24, founding sponsor of the festival, also supports the KKNK’s decision.

“At Media24 the arts are close to our hearts, and we are exceptionally proud of our long association with the KKNK in Oudsthoorn,” says Ishmet Davidson, CEO. “This is after all where the wealth of Afrikaans festivals countrywide originated.

“We are deeply grateful to the KKNK team and board for their hard work to keep this flagship festival alive. We appreciate the responsibility they have displayed in managing it in these difficult times – towards the Arts, the many artists involved and the people of the region. We remain solidly behind the festival.”

Chris Macpherson, Executive Mayor of Oudtshoon, says the postponement of the KKNK was inevitable given the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We must use this as an opportunity to showcase our own products and with the assistance of the organisation’s directors and sponsors we intend to continue with various projects to keep Oudtshoorn on the Arts and Entertainment map.” 

Proposals from artists who have already applied to the 2021 festival will still be considered in the coming year, and application forms for further proposals remain available on the KKNK website. “Any and every suggestion is welcome – think outside the box!” says Theart. “Because that is what 2020 taught us – new ways of thinking and doing.”

Visit the KKNK’s Facebook page and the KKNK website at www.kknk.co.za for the latest news and events.

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