25 Years Of Greatness @ The Hilton Arts Festival!

Hilton College: 15 – 17 September 2017
KZN’s premier arts festival, the Hilton Arts Festival, celebrated its 25th birthday with a bumper weekend of phenomenal art, music and theatre.
In true festival style, the weekend saw a full kaleidoscope of haphazard weather patterns – from baking heat, to gale force winds, to pea-soup mist, biting cold and intermittent drizzle.
The festival started with a super-successful Jongosi youth day on Friday – with a bespoke range of youth-appropriate events, shows and exhibitions for the first time playing to 100% capacity.
Family-friendly fare was high on the agenda, with the festival’s affiliation with youth theatre experts, Assitej (International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People), who offered a range of productions, workshop and a free children’s fantasy play-area: The Power of Play. The intention is to increase the involvement of Assitej next year to become an integral part of the Jongosi youth day as well.
There was a range of carefully-curated range of art exhibitions this year: portraits of festival participants by photographer Harry Lock entitled Out of Character; A Life Less Ordinary images of Nelson Mandela by Matthew Willman; Africa Media Online which established a strong presence this year, hosting both the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 and nine presentations by some of South Africa’s foremost documentary photographers and curators of significant archives, under the banner of DocuFest Africa. There was a showcase of the work of legendary Italian film director and screenwriter, Federico Fellini and his focus on food; the Living Art Exhibition hosted by Grant Wood and Tony Durrheim making art in-front of an audience.
Auction experts Strauss & Co were at the festival for the first time, sharing tips with visitors about online buying of art, art as investment, and doing on-site evaluations. They also hosted a lecture on the life, work and times of J H Peerneef – which was so popular that extra seats had to be bought into the lecture venue to accommodate the demand. Strauss & Co are already putting their programme together for the festival next year.
N3 Gateway is a collective of arts, crafts and cultural activities to be found along the N3 from Pretoria to Durban, Lesotho to the KZN Battlefields, co-ordinated by the N3 Gateway Tourism Association. This was their first presence at Hilton, and they look forward to coming back next year.
Festival Director, Sue Clarence commented:”We are delighted that we had such a successful festival again, especially as we were celebrating our 25th year of existence. I wish to extend a heartfelt thank you firstly to the entire creative, management and technical team for their dedication, good humour and hard work; and secondly to our sponsors and partners who made the festival possible.
“We are delighted that the youth component of the festival was so well received – having 100% attendance at Jongosi is hugely affirming. We prioritise the need to grow the youth component of the festival and have great ideas to extend this vision next year, and have thoughts around extending the music programme for next year too.
“Among the highlights for me this year were a range of curated exhibitions, and our relationship with the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town. The Baxter Theatre had a strong presence this year with two major productions directed by Lara Foot Karoo Moose and The Inconvenience of Wings, both of which are multi award winning productions and have just returned triumphant from the Edinburgh Festival. We are hoping to duplicate this next year and have two exciting productions in mind. Also new was the Bistro restaurant experience which was hosted by Jackie Cameron which offered people an alternative dining opportunity in an atmosphere more conducive to conversation and quiet than the more boisterous main tent. And the excellent support for the range of lectures and workshops on offer was most pleasing.
“Detailed stats and numbers are not yet available – but due to the overall good weather the numbers of day trippers increased from last year. The attendance for Saturday showed a 48% improvement compared to last year (calculated by numbers of cars through the gate) and ticket sales overall look very healthy” said Clarence.
The festival would not be possible without the generous support of Hilton College, Tiso Black Star, Grindrod Bank, Black Coffee, DWR, PWC, Bidvest Car Rental, Indwe Risk Services, Assitej South Africa, Loud Crowd, Sappi, Redlands Hotel, Zultrans, KZN Dept of Arts & Culture, BASA, Castle Lite, Maritzburg Sun, Caxton.
Hilton Arts Festival 2018 will be held from 14 – 16 September.
For more info visit http://www.hiltonfestival.co.za/ or like the Facebook page, Hilton Arts Festival. Follow us on Twitter @HiltonFest or download our free APP Hilton Arts Festival for both Android and IOS.

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