The Village Green Goes Virtual

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The Village Green, the buzzing fair at the heart of the National Arts Festival, will this year become an online treasure trove of crafted wares and savvy finds.

“We decided that the show must go on this year, which has meant that the Festival has pivoted into the digital realm,” says Monica Newton, the CEO of the National Arts Festival.

“It’s been a steep learning curve for all of us but we are determined to bring our audiences a very special experience and what would the Festival be without the Village Green to shop all your souvenirs – so we are inviting our traders to come and join us.”

The Virtual Green will be housed on the Festival’s website, which is currently being upgraded, and will present some of the much-loved Village Green finds such as woolly beanies, handmade jewellery, paintings and carvings, fabrics, clothes and more. The Eastern Cape’s showcase of local craft and design will form part of the offering too – expect intricate beadwork, colourful traditional clothing, exquisitely carved bowls, vases and children’s toys, and much more.

The Festival is working with the Craft and Design Institute to bring traders from across South Africa into the space through links to their Peek pages from the Virtual Green web page. Shoppers wanting to buy from crafters will be able to transact directly with traders to ensure a personalised experience.

Since its launch in 2017, CDI’s online digital platform www.peek.org.za has grown significantly. It is dedicated to showcasing beautiful craft and design products made in South Africa and has been made possible thanks to funding by the national Department of Small Business Development. Over a quarter of visitors to Peek are from overseas, with visitors from the US, France, UK, Canada, and Germany amongst other countries frequenting the
site to find products. Currently there are 528 businesses registered on the platform, showcasing over 3 790 products.

“We are excited about this opportunity to work with the National Arts Festival on the Virtual Green. Through Peek we are raising awareness with consumers and buyers to ensure local businesses continue to find leads, particularly with physical market opportunities constrained. We hope that South Africans will show their love of local and take time to connect with local makers online,” says Erica Elk, Group CEO at the CDI.

Newton points out that traders have been as negatively affected by the cancellations of public gatherings as artists have. “Many traders are dependent on festivals and markets across the country to sell their wares and their income has been severely impacted. This is the time to support local small businesses and we would like to urge Festival visitors to pop in and buy something – even if it is something small.”

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