National Arts Festival brings on board two dynamic women to head up its technical division
Following the resignation of the Festival’s technical director, Tony Groenewald, the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown has appointed Nicci Spalding as the new Technical Director and Michelle Lowry as the new Technical Manager to head up the technical division of the Festival. Both will assume their new roles at the beginning of February.
"Over its 37-year history, the National Arts Festival has demonstrated an outstanding level of excellence in providing technical services to theatre, music, dance and visual arts companies that present their work in Grahamstown. For many of these years, the Festival's technical division was headed by Tony Groenewald whose passion for a high level of technical service contributed to both the artists and the audiences enjoying many memorable productions at the Festival. Tony has relocated to Johannesburg to take on newer challenges and, though he is no longer with the Festival, we can all rejoice that he has chosen to still remain in the arts industry," said Festival Director, Ismail Mahomed.
Nicci Spalding, who holds an honours bachelor degree in Dramatic Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand, has been working in the production side of the entertainment industry since 1994. She has extensive cross-disciplinary experience, having worked on the technical side of productions in almost every genre. Spalding is also no stranger to the Festival where she previously worked as the assistant technical manager to Tony Groenewald. Her experience also includes working as operations and site manager at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as a crew-member for the Garsington Opera Festival and having toured extensively on shows of varying scale around the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia.
“I have been touring internationally fairly consistently for the past eight years, and am now looking forward to a post which will offer me an opportunity to invest my skills and experiences in South Africa,” said Spalding.
Michelle Lowry has over 25 years of experience in staging theatrical and event productions. “I am passionate about the industry,” said Lowry, who locally has worked with John Kani, Barney Simon and Mannie Manim; and internationally at the National Theatre with Jason Barnes of the Cottesloe Theatre, and with theatre directors such as Sir Richard Eyre, Trevor Nunn and Sam Mendes. She has extensive experience in the events industry drawn from years of working in productions across a broad range of genres. Her credits include some of South Africa’s highest profile events such as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 7th All Africa Games in 1999 and in 2002 at the Opening Ceremony of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Also no stranger to Grahamstown, Lowry has worked as the Resident Stage Manager and Venue Manager of Rhodes Theatre at the Festival for two years.
"Both Nicci Spalding and Michelle Lowry have a long tradition of expertise of working with the festival circuit both nationally and internationally. Their skills, experiences and passion for the arts will allow the Festival to continue to sustain its reputation of providing our visiting companies with excellence in technical workmanship, professional stage services and the ability to see their artistic and creative visions come alive at the Festival," said Mahomed.