The idea of a northern Afrikaans festival, following on the success of the KKNK, was conceived at a meeting in Stellenbosch on 26 September 1996, and the first one took place in Potchefstroom in 1998, with Media24 as founding sponsor, Neil van Heerden as Chairman of the board and Giep van Zyl as first Festival Manager. Aardklop (literally meaning something like "Pulse of the Earth") is an Afrikaans neologism created at the time by their publicist Ian Bekker, when looking for a name for the festival.
The first festival had more than 15 000 visitors, and this has steadily grown to over 150 000 per year.
According to its website, the aim of the festival is to host a sustainable festival, of the highest standards, and so to make a constructive contribution to the celebration and development of local arts in a universal context as well as providing a platform for the creative talents of South African artists. Though its focus is primarily on artistic output in Afrikaans and the promotion of the Afrikaans language, the festival is part of the multilingual national and international community and committed to the idea that Afrikaans forms part of a wider world of artistic endeavour.
In 20** Clover became the "name sponsor" of the festival, and henceforth the festival was officially known as the Clover Aardklop Festival, and productions were sponsored under that name. However, it remains simply Aardklop to most artists and the general public.
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