The inaugural Urban Festival, presented and hosted by the South African Cities Network (SACN) in partnership with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Civic Tech Innovation Network (CTIN) and Our Future Cities (OFC), will run from 1-31 October 2020, culminating on World Cities Day.

The festival is a first for the urban development fraternity in South Africa and will take place virtually across a range of digital platforms. In line with the objectives of the Integrated Urban Devoplemt Framework (IUDF), this year’s programme aims to empower and activate people to consciously participate in the transformation of South Africa’s cities and towns. Our Future Cities will present a curated programme that includes discussions, seminars, masterclasses and screenings of short films and documentaries. In addition, there is an Open Call out, to encourage responses from a range of dynamic actors to this year’s theme, Empowering the Civic. Selected events will make up the festival’s emergent programme. The event will be free to the public.

As curator Rashiq Fataar notes, “the relationship between people and their government has always been critical to building a responsive and vibrant society and is the bedrock of South Africa’s democracy given our past. The Empowering the Civic theme of the Urban Festival will therefore provide a platform to explore the potential of technology to overcome current challenges and barriers and leap forward into new ways of civic engagement and mobilisation for urban development. Through this, it will aim to connect different parts of society, foster collaboration and seek solutions.”

Urban Festival’s overarching focus on inclusivity, accessibility and digital innovation will be primarily based around a Main Programme of speakers from government, independent organisations and industry. This will be complemented by an Emergent Programme of wide-ranging additional presenters and organisations who have responded to our Open Call. SACN, partners and the OFC curatorial team therefore invite all civil society, organisations, designers, planners, storytellers, civil servants and city-dwellers to join the virtual conversation so that stories, tours, research and voices are preserved, and can be used to foster greater understanding and better solutions.

Interested parties can respond to the Open Call  here!