Business Partnerships & Sponsorship

Now entering its 25th year, The Hilton Arts Festival, produced by Hilton College in association with Sue Clarence Promotions,  is a three day annual event bringing together quality South African theatre, music, dance, art and craft.  The event takes place in the grounds of Hilton College, attracting audiences mainly from KZN and Gauteng.  It is considered to be one of the major theatre festivals in the country and the largest festival in KZN, bringing many visitors to Pietermaritzburg and the KZN Midlands.

The youth/schools programme, “Jongosi”, symbolising all that is young, vibrant and filled with hope for the future, forms an integral part of the festival and attracts large school groups.

The Festival is managed by a small committee and admin staff, with a larger complement employed in the month prior to the event.  Local people and businesses benefit from the influx of people for the event and the employment opportunites created.

The Festival aims to bring the pick of SA performing arts, specifically but not exclusively, theatre, to KZN, and to supplement this with a varied music programme, an extensive, quality craft market, visual arts, arts-related lectures and workshops, food and drink outlets, as well as street and free entertainment.  In addition to the main Festival weekend, the Festival runs a very successful schools’ day-programme.   The Festival also aims to provide the best possible technical support to productions; to give businesses, especially those in KZN, a chance to partner a sustainable arts event with a history of enormous success; to give the public of KZN an opportunity to see work from all over the country, work which otherwise never tours to KZN; and to publicise the event as widely as possible.  The Festival’s main, as yet unachieved aim, is to reduce the ticket prices to be affordable to a more diverse target group and to fall In line with other festivals of national significance.

The 2016 Festival achieved all the above aims with the exception of the reduction of the ticket prices.  Ticket prices were set at the very lowest prices possible, relative to the amount of business funding and sponsorship as well as other projected income, while at the same time having to achieve budgeted income to cover costs. Only increased business funding will ever result in significantly lower ticket prices.

The issue of the ticket price is increasingly important to resolve. The ultimate sustainability of the event relies more and more on this being achieved.

The profile of Hilton College is raised by the many visitors to the Festival.  The event affords the College the opportunity to share its campus with the wider community. Hilton College is committed to the development of Arts, Heritage and Culture.  Through the festival’s Jongosi Schools programme, all Hilton College pupils as well as pupils from many other schools, experience quality, pre-selected, theatre productions, in a safe environment.  Outreach is achieved by inviting disadvantaged school groups from the Pietermaritzburg area, to attend Jongosi free of charge.  Increased cash sponsorship would radically and positively affect those schools able to attend.

In order to achieve the sustainability and longevity of the Festival, the organisation follows careful budgetary practice and develops long-lasting, respected working relationships with the various sponsors. The Festival administration remains in negotiation with sponsors regarding their commitment to the Festival, immediately following the conclusion of each year.  The administration has developed successful working relationships with production companies and technical staff; it has also maintained a respected platform for crafters and artists.  The team has developed a strong relationship with other schools attending the Festival on the schools’ day and this has become a sought-after day in the drama calendar of many schools in more than just KZN.  The administration is constantly looking for ways to change and improve the event. Annual capital investment in infrastructure is essential in this regard.

Number of Venues : 14
Number of Tickets Sold : 10 351
Number of Patrons Attending : 17 600
Number attending Jongosi : 1317
LSM Group : 7-10
Age Group  : 12-18 (Jongosi)
                          : 30-80 (Festival Weekend)
Number of Productions  : 53
Number of Free Performances  : 20
Number of Visual Artists : 68
Number of Crafters : 190
Number of Food Vendors : 36
Number of Exhibitors : 14

Independent, PWC and Grindrod Bank Limited were offered sites to provide a hospitality facility for their clients and invited guests. Grindrod Bank Limited took advantage of this.  PWC had direct involvement with the Hilton College learners by associating themselves with a Grade 9 Entrepreneurial Market and judging their overall performance.  The Festival is able to accommodate, within reason, entertainment for a corporate function, at the Fleur-de-Lys Club.  PWC took part in this. Grindrod Bank Limited, Independent and PWC had preferential booking of theatre tickets.  By contracted arrangement, Grindrod Bank Limited and PWC are able to send out information, via Hilton College, to the Hilton College Old Boy data base and the current parent data base.  In addition, and by contract arrangement, PWC are able to access the accounting students they may wish to contact for learnerships/internships.

Sponsors were allocated specific sites for branding purposes, by mutual agreement.  Grindrod Bank made use of their position to create a hospitality tent with a “shabeen chic” theme where they hosted their VIP’s and clients over the course of the weekend. The Independent, Sunday Tribune and Mercury all placed banners and marketing material at strategic areas.  Newspapers paid for by the Festival, as per the trade agreement with Independent, were handed out to patrons on both Saturday and Sunday.  All premium sponsors’ logos appeared on all advertisements and posters, and all sponsors’ logos appeared in the programme and on the website.

For more information on sponsorship opportunities please contact the Festival Office directly on or 033 383 0127.