The Toyota SU Woordfees will be a Stellenbosch spring festival, for the first time, next year. The decision – to host the festival from 17 to 24 September 2021 – was taken in consultation with Stellenbosch University and other stakeholders.
The organisers considered moving the festival to February or April. This, however, is not financially feasible due to the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the possibility that Covid protocols could radically limit attendance. Also, matric results for 2020 are only expected by the end of February 2021. As a result, the academic year of the university will start much later. Student registration and orientation activities will make it impossible to host the Woordfees from 5 to 14 March 2021 as was originally planned.
The festival intends to stage a number of events aimed at a Woordfees audience earlier in the year. These activities will focus on the support of artists and the creation of new opportunities for sponsors. Events will include online as well as traditional offerings. All traditional events with live audiences will adhere to the applicable Covid-19 protocols.
According to the director of the Toyota SU Woordfees and WOW Project, Saartjie Botha, it is too early to predict whether this is a once-off shift or whether the whole festival will move permanently to the second half of the year: “The Woordfees does not operate in isolation from other festivals and given the challenges currently facing the arts environment, we have to operate in ways that benefit the greater industry. This means that we have to be focused on sustainability and innovative solutions. Now more than ever, the festivals have a responsibility to provide opportunities for artists to earn an income. We are also committed to ensure returns on the investments made by our sponsors and, where possible, to help stimulate the local economy.”
Artists and producers who have already applied for the 2021 Toyota SU Woordfees, can choose to leave their applications in the current pool or to adapt them and/or submit new applications. Applications for all programme segments will thus be reopened. See woordfees.co.za for more details.
More information on Woordfees events planned for early next year will be announced in the media and on all the digital platforms of the Toyota SU Woordfees as soon as possible.