The music activities of the Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB): a historical survey

Blanckenberg, Elizabeth (2009-03)

Thesis (MMus (Music))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


The Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB) was one of four regional government-funded councils established in 1963, with the mandate to promote and develop the Western performing art forms (opera, ballet, music and drama) in the four provinces of the Republic of South Africa. Although the Board, and more specifically, the Music Department, made a significant contribution to the development of the performing arts in the Cape Province over more than three decades, its history remains largely undocumented. Therefore, the main objective of this study is to provide an account of CAPAB’s music activities against an outline of the organisation’s general history. Included is a discussion of the Music Department’s most significant contributions: the Department’s role as an impresario; the extensive music education programmes presented in schools and rural areas; the promotion of home-grown talent and the major part played by CAPAB’s orchestra (1971-97) in facilitating the development of the Western performing arts in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape. Inextricably linked to these topics are a range of both positive and negative factors which influenced the development of the performing arts in this context. These include the effects of the Apartheid government’s policies on the development of the arts; the Board’s reliance on, and claim to state funding; the controversial history of CAPAB’s state-of-the-art Nico Malan Theatre Complex; the Board’s attempts to rectify imbalances of the period prior to the political transformation in the early 1990s and the events leading to a new dispensation for the performing arts in a democratic South Africa. Since CAPAB’s demise in 1998, sufficient time has elapsed to allow for a more objective evaluation of its role. Therefore, this study concludes with a brief assessment of the legacy of the CAPAB’s 35-year existence, summarising its effect on classical music in South Africa as we experience it today.

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