The My Body My Space: Public Arts Festival, which is currently under way, has become the first arts festival to take place on the WhatsApp platform. It will run until the end of next month. It features works of over 80 artists from all over South Africa as well as countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The art industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic forcing event organisers and artists to come up with innovative ways to showcase their work. Organisers of “The My Body My Space: Public Art Festival” came up with this new way of accessing their audiences via WhatsApp.
Managing and Artistic Director, Peter Sabbagha, explains how it works: “They must WhatsApp HI to 0600 110 444 and then they will receive a menu and from there they will see the prompt of latter in bold. Then you send the reply and you will be able to access and videos will be sent to your phone.”
Sabbagha says the biggest challenge with an online festival is that the artists are unable to interact with their audience. However, he says, there are advantages as well.
“The positives of the online festival is that you are not bound by specific space. For example, people can be participating in the festival and enjoy it from anywhere in the world and you can have a much bigger viewership. People from North West, Limpopo or wherever it could be enjoying what we are presenting from Mpumalanga,” Sabbagha says.
Public Arts Festival will feature over 70 works by artists in Africa and beyond:
The festival does not only consist of performances and artworks but also has educational content.
One of the artists, Oupa Sibeko, says the new normal has forced them to think out of the box.
“What I found challenging is that with COVID-19, as an artist because of the pandemic, the things that I used to do are now criminalised. So which meant I needed to adapt and learn. So I learnt skills in editing and packaging, so I have learnt a lot.”
Those who would like to be part of The My Body My Space: Public Art Festival, can join on this WhatsApp number 0600 110 444.
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