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Creating a culture of excellence

Between Table Mountain and Table Bay, the City of Cape Town boasts a cosmopolitan mix of historic and modern landmarks. One of these is Artscape Theatre Centre on the Foreshore, home to the Artscape performing arts company.

     Established 40 years ago as the then Nico Malan Theatre Centre, Artscape’s close proximity to Cape Town’s central business district, the new International Convention Centre and the V&A Waterfront, makes it ideally situated to serve the Cape’s performing arts, film, tourism, entertainment, conference, and exhibition industries.
     Known for its world-class theatrical productions, from opera to ballet, musicals to drama, tribute performances to jazz, as well as a host of festivals celebrating the democratic legacy of South Africa, the Centre boasts an equally strong education and training programme.
     The programme’s objective is to create avenues of accessibility for, specifically, the youth, the historically marginalised and those who face challenges in accessing the arts, such as distance, transport and disability. The comprehensive year-long arts education programme equally serves as a conduit towards the contribution to nation-building. In addition, the cultural institution recognises the immense challenges facing the youth of today, inclusive of socio-economic issues, and, through our programmes, assist in resolving some of these challenges.

Artscape Theatre
Instruments made by participants to The Artscape Theatre Centre’s first artist in residence project with Dizu Plaaatjies

     The Artscape Theatre Centre continues to deliver on our mandate by presenting quality education and outreach programmes with the youth as our target market. This lays fundamental stepping-stones for our people and brings us closer to the ideal of being a socially cohesive nation. This is just one example of how we create shared and safe spaces with all our partners, including the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government among others, as an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture.
     The youth projects, which aim to expose learners to required curriculum based outcomes, include the annual setwork productions in all three official provincial languages, the High School Drama Festival and Schools Arts Festival.
     This year, the setwork productions include Shakespeare’s Hamlet; Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa!; Adam Small’s Krismis van Map Jacobs; and Witness K. Tamsanqa’s Buzani kuBawo.
     As part of the Centre’s ongoing vision to develop a love for the performing arts, we invite schools to participate in the Schools Arts Festival – a wonderful opportunity for learners. Approximately 15 schools share the same stage each evening, contributing to an exciting and diverse theatre experience, from classical choirs to contemporary dance. The festival culminates in a glittering gala performance by selected schools.

Artscape Theatre
Participants in the annual Artscape Theatre Centre’s Youth Jazz Festival

     During the High School Drama Festival, learners are given a platform to voice their creativity, views and social concerns through drama on a professional stage to a captive audience. The aim is to broaden their horizons by experiencing the magic of live theatre, professional lighting and sound, while being able to learn the discipline of acting, essential to being a performer.
     Other projects to be showcased include the continuation of the inaugural 2017 artist-in-residency project with Dizu Plaatjies that saw the birth of the Indigenous Ensemble Special Project; and the host of productions which highlight our shared democratic history encapsulated in the Youth, Women’s and Heritage Month festivals, as well as the promotion of formerly marginalised genres hosted on our stages in the form of the Jazz Masters Tribute.
     Many of the developing artists who have participated in Artscape’s youth-orientated productions, such as the Youth Jazz and Youth Classical Music Festival – the latter offering young singers and solo instrumentalists the opportunity of performing with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra – have excelled as professionals both locally and internationally, with many scooping major awards. One of last year’s participants, Cecilia Rangwanasha, also a Cape Town Opera studio member, went on to win the 6th International UNISA Music Foundation Voice Competition.

Learners performing a dance routine during the Artscape Theatre Centre’s annual Schools Arts Festival

     Expanding on international exposure, we also embark on cultural exchange programmes inclusive of the Brouhaha Carnival based in Liverpool, UK; the Urban Space Project and the Cultural construction of Youth that sees youth from South Africa, Zambia and France participate to the exploration of Youth centred challenges such as violence or disability.
     Meanwhile, on a local government level, we have a proud 13-year partnership with municipalities across the province where we take the theatre to people, reaching up to 3 500 learners through our annual rural outreach programme as well as the inhabitants of the adjacent towns and farms.
     Artscape Theatre Centre’s ethos is to create a ‘culture of excellence’. This remains critical to the growth and sustainability of our organisation. To achieve this excellence, we continuously monitor the quality of the productions that grace our stages, thereby creating a culture that ensures our development and educational programmes are masterpieces that will leave our audiences mesmerised in all genres of the performing arts
    Concurrently to stay abreast of this growth, Artscape Technical Training Academy hosts Workplace Integrated Learning Technical Internships in Stage Management, Stage Lighting, Stage Sound and Wardrobe. Interns work alongside industry professionals with the purpose of providing training and practical experience towards a career in the technical aspects of theatre.
     Stay updated on these and all other programmes and productions through various platforms. Be sure to follow Artscape on social media, including Facebook and Twitter @ArtscapeTheatre; or visit our website on For ticket bookings, prices and dates, refer to Computicket or Artscape Dial-a-Seat on 021 421 76 95.

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