In 2015 I wrote an article headlined “Can art save this city?” for an experimental online publishing platform, Contributoria. The platform was positioned as a potential new model for journalism based on direct contributions from readers. It was — sadly — short lived, lasting just 21 editions, but that’s a story for another day.

The article was about the cultural and economic effect of the National Arts Festival on then-Grahamstown (now Makhanda), which was falling apart at the seams. The municipality was in administration, struggling to keep the lights on or supply water. This led to questions over whether the city could or should continue to host the festival, which in turn raised the issue of what happens to the city if the almost R350m annual boost to the local and regional economy suddenly dried up...

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