In interview with Mail & Guardian, Peter Rorvik, the secretary general of the creative civil society organisation, Arterial Network, said it is a fundamental role of the artist to make us think. This year the National Arts Festival moves towards a programme that prompts artists to engage in material that unwraps the moral fibre of South Africa and that mirrors the good and ugly side of society. Simply put, the festival this year is not catering for a passive audience.
The festival puts satire and freedom of expression at the core of the programme. The Oxford dictionary defines satire as the “use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticise people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues”. In The Satire as a Social Mirror, satire is defined as being helpful in “discussing serious social matters and asking questions that need to be asked”. Artists are challenged to hold a mirror up to the issues that affect Africans.
“The arts need to challenge and provoke,” said Ismail Mahomed, the Festival’s Artistic Director in a press statement. “South Africa’s satirists, cartoonists, commentators and court jesters need, now more than ever, to be given the opportunity to be the public voice, the conscience, of the nation.”