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16 I believe this to be the best job in the South African arts sector but it needs constant refreshing and the Festival will benefit from the energy and focus that a new Artistic Director will bring Mahomed said. His focus had been firmly on delivering another inspiring and varied programme in 2016 but an announcement about his future plans would be made in due course. Festival CEO Tony Lankester acknowledged the contribution Mahomed has made to the Festival during his tenure as Artistic Director. He has made a significant impact on the event as well as on the national conversation about the arts Lankester said. Well talk more about his influence in the weeks to come as we find ways to thank him for his hard work and passion. Now in its 42nd year the National Arts Festival is the largest and longest-running celebration of the arts on the African continent. The line- up for this year taps into the national mood with fierce feisty and funny productions that both celebrate South Africas vibrant contemporary culture as well as tackle the wounds of the countrys traumatic and violent past. Visitors to Grahamstown can look forward to world-class performances from local and international theatre companies including some reinvented and reinvigorated classics breath taking contemporary dance and some heart- and brain-busting work from returning Standard Bank Ovation Award winners on the Arena programme. Bookings open 9 May 2016 online at Printed copies of the Festival programme will be available at selected Standard Bank and Exclusive Books branches. The full programme will be online from early May at www.nationalartsfestival. The programme and further useful information about the Festival is also available on a user-friendly app available for IOS and Android National Arts Festival. Sascha Polkey ISMAIL MAHOMED HAS BEEN AT THE ARTISTIC HELM OF THE NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL FOR THE PAST NINE YEARS. HE HAS ANNOUNCED THAT THIS YEARS FESTIVAL WILL BE HIS LAST. MAKE THIS THE YEAR Above Ismail Mahomed Photo Suzy Bernstein