As Port Elizabeth’s fifth Northern Arts Festival starts up tomorrow (Thursday, September 22), event founder Billy Paulson is contemplating his next 5-year cycle of “making people beautiful”.
In a recent interview, singer, song writer and entrepreneur, Paulson, said he was trusting that within the next 20 days God would show him who would take over the running of the festival as he took up his next assignment — the establishment of the proposed Northern FM radio station.
He said that his calling to “make people beautiful” by developing their potential dated back to his teen years, and had a history of playing out in five year cycles.
During a 40-day fast In 2006 (after a five year period as station manager of Kingfisher FM) he said he heard God give him three projects to undertake over consecutive five year periods.
His first task was to start the Northern Arts Festival in order to use the powerful medium of art to bring out the wealth of untapped talent in a community that was known for “drugs, violence and mayhem”.
Thereafter he was called to set up the Northern FM radio station — a community radio station based in Bethelsdorp, for which a licence had already been granted. And then after another five years he was to establish an educational academy in the Northern Areas.
Looking back on the past five years, Paulson said the festival which features music, dance, drama, arts, crafts and cultural heritage — had grown into a “legacy event” that attracted more than 80 000 people from Port Elizabeth, and other parts of South Africa and other countries, over its four-days run. Representatives of several major South African festivals were attending this year’s Northern Arts Festival and would select locally-developed young performers to appear on bigger stages around the country.
“We have no alcohol or beer tent, no crime and no drugs during the festival. While it is not a Christian event it is based on Christian principles,” he said.
The event ends on Sunday with praise and worship and a gospel music festival.