Performing Arts Councils

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The term performing arts council

The term performing arts council is used in South Africa to a large extent to refer to one of the five state funded organizations founded in 1962 to replace the former National Theatre Organization and gradually transformed and/or disbanded after the political changes in 1994. (Some sources for Elizabeth Sneddon's biography refer to her role as co-founder of a Performing Arts Council of South Africa - or Performing Arts Council of SA - in 1958, there is no real evidence yet that such an organization ever existed.)

Often referred to collectively as the Performing Arts Councils (or PACs), they were generally known individually by their acronyms: CAPAB, NAPAC, PACOFS, PACT and SWAPAC (or KRUIK, NARUK, SUKOVS, TRUK and SWARUK in Afrikaans)

In imitation of these councils, a few urban or regional companies also styled themselves "performing arts councils" in the 1970s and 1980s, e.g. the Eersterus Performing Arts Council (EPAC, or Eersterus Raad vir die Uitvoerende Kunste - ERUK)

The state funded Performing Arts Councils (1961-1990s)


Conceived in 1961, and intended to replace the embattled and struggling National Theatre Organisation (NTO) in 1963. The proposal was made in the report of the De Bruyn Committee, appointed in 1961 to investigate the management and finances of NTO.


In 1963 by the Minister of Education, Arts and Science, Dr Jan de Klerk, thus formally proclaimed the intitution of the four new Performing Arts Councils (PACs), one for each of the four provinces: the Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB), the Natal Performing Arts Council (NAPAC), the Performing Arts Council of the Orange Free State (PACOFS) and the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal (PACT). In 1966 a fifth was added, namely the South West Africa Performing Arts Council (SWAPAC – Later to change it name to the Namibian National Theatre).

Aims and management

Their commission was to work towards the advancement of the performing arts on a professional basis within their designated regions. Unlike NTO these councils would not be responsible only for drama, but would also provide ballet, music and opera. The councils were initially centrally subsidised by the state, but then later legislation was created to allow provincial subsidies to also be awarded. As they progressed commercial or private funding also crept into the mix.

The South African Committee of Performing Arts Councils (SACPAC)

At one stage the PACs sought to to undertake co-ordinated joint projects under an umbrella body called the South African Committee of Performing Arts Councils (SACPAC). (Two of these projects were the short-lived SACPAC Playwriting Competition (or SACPAC Playwriting Competition) and the SACPAC Honours Awards)

The individual PACs

For more information on the individual PACs, see:

Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB)

Natal Performing Arts Council (NAPAC)

Performing Arts Council of the Orange Free State (PACOFS)

Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal (PACT)

South West Africa Performing Arts Council (SWAPAC)

Non-governmental Performing arts Councils

Eersterus Performing Arts Council (EPAC)


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