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ETC supports South Africa’s National Arts Festival

ETC supports South Africa’s National Arts Festival
ETC supports South Africa’s National Arts Festival

When ETC dealer Prosound was asked to provide support for the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, they knew this was an opportunity.

The festival is an important event on the South African cultural calendar, and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent, but many of the venues suffer from similar issues: excess heat and lack of power.

One such venue, Vicky’s, is a small school canteen converted into a fringe theatre with a 150 seat capacity; but in previous years, the power supplied to the venue could not sustain its demands. To reduce the issues caused by the lighting, this year they decided to go all-LED, thanks not only to assistance from Prosound, but also to sponsorship from ETC.

Prosound’s Mac Makhobotloane, who was responsible for lighting technical support, says: “We used ETC Source Four LED fixtures, due to their beautiful dimming curve as well as their impeccable capability to replicate the behaviour of tungsten. They were able to give us a wide range of saturated colour, making them by far the best for the job. To that, we added some of the new ETC ColorSource PARs, which provide an incredible colour spectrum and spectacular dimming curve, at a superb low cost.”

National Arts Festival venue technician Salvatore Hamilton Mdluli complimented both the ColorSource PAR and the Source Four LED, saying: “I have yet to come across an LED PAR fixture in this price range that is this good. With its spectacular RGB-L LEDs, as well as a wide range of both round and oval diffusers, it was love at first cue!

“The Source Four LED fixtures were incredible; you could even change their colour temperature and they’d still be rocking.”

Nicci Spalding, technical director of the festival, says the units were given a very positive showcase: “From our perspective it was fantastic to be able to provide the artists in Vicky’s with a more substantial rig, something that has not been possible to date given the severe power constraints of the building.”

Over in St Andrews Hall, another venue lit with the support of ETC, an Element console replaced the Festival’s previous control desk which had reached the end of its life. Natalia Van Eck, who had never used an ETC desk before, says she was: “Surprised to be able to just power up and go without the help of the manual.”

Elsewhere in the festival, Denis Hutchinson lit two shows in the Victoria Theatre, with ETC Source LED Four Series 2 Lustr luminaires and an ETC Ion control desk which he’d specifically requested. Between his two shows, lighting student Koketso Linda Maponya took control of the Ion, declaring that she “loved the Ion!”

“I found it powerful and magical compared to my usual control desk,” she said. “It was very user friendly, making programming and operating shows a great pleasure.”

The main theatre at the festival was the Guy Butler Theatre, where an ETC Gio was used alongside ETC Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr fixtures. Lighting designer Faheem Bardien lit the first show of the festival, Spring and Fall by the Cape Town City Ballet. After the Ballet, the desk remained in the theatre for rest of the festival, where it was taken over by lighting technician Abby Thatcher.

Two other halls benefited from ETC sponsorship: Alex Mullins, and the Memory Hall.

Technical director Spalding said: “We are enormously grateful to Prosound for their support of the Festival this year, and were especially excited by the increased support from ETC. I have always been a fan of their control systems and having such fantastically solid and stable lighting consoles in such key venues went a long way to ensuring a smooth festival experience for our presenting artists.

“We are able to provide top of the range equipment to our artists without blowing the budget sky high. There are 150 technicians who come to Grahamstown to work on the Festival, many of whom are just starting out; giving them constant exposure to new technology and professional advice is vital for their growth as theatre practitioners.”

In picture: Rehearsing on the ETC Element at the National Arts Festival, South Africa.

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15th September 2015

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