The Baxter Theatre Centre celebrates its 40th anniversary. To mark this milestone, the iconic theatre has embarked on an initiative called the 40/80 Campaign. This simple and accessible campaign is a fundraising drive inviting the public and the business sector to join them in turning a 40-year legacy into an 80-year commitment, thereby, ensuring that this illustrious legacy will continue for future audiences and artists.
To this end the Baxter Theatre is going all-out by launching the 40/80 campaign, inviting the people of Cape Town, patrons and all other arts and theatre lovers to help raise funds for, what is essentially, the people’s theatre. The money raised with this initiative will go straight into the theatre’s Endowment and Production Funds.
The Baxter Theatre Centre, designed by the award-winning architect Jack Barnett, opened on 1 August 1977. It came into being as the result of a bequest from the late Dr William Duncan Baxter who, in his will, bequeathed R553866 to the University of Cape Town for the purpose of establishing a theatre which would, in his words, “develop and cultivate the arts in Cape Town and the adjacent districts for all artists”. This bequest was split between building the premises and establishing a permanent endowment fund for the Baxter’s activities.
Barnett wanted to design a theatre that embodied the South African spirit and culture, at a time when South Africa was much divided. A theatre like the Baxter had to embrace all the people of Cape Town, which was difficult due to the laws that were enforced in the country at the time. The Entertainment Act of 1931 introduced legal censorship and the Publication and Entertainment Act of 1963 segregated black and white audiences, unless under special licences. To build the Baxter Theatre in the city centre meant that people of colour couldn’t access it and that is why the University of Cape Town became a strategic location for a theatre for all.
“The Baxter does not receive any funding from the national government or from the National Lotteries Commission. It is not considered a state entity and is not eligible for funding, and for the past 10 years the Lottery has denied funding due to our association with UCT,” explains CEO and artistic director Lara Foot.
She continues, “Furthermore, there is an added misperception that the Baxter is funded entirely by UCT, which is incorrect. UCT covers approximately 40% of our operational costs and we have to raise the remainder ourselves. The Baxter is a UCT project and we get considerable support from the university. However, they cannot give us all that we need to do our work. The university meets all the costs associated with the Concert Hall – one of the complex’s five stages. As a result, the Concert Hall’s primary purpose is to serve as a teaching and performance venue for the South African College of Music.”
“The university also covers part of the infrastructure costs through an annual operating grant. This means, therefore, that the Baxter has to find 60% of the funding to cover everything else such as all salaries, including security, cleaning, production staff and ad hoc artists, as well as electricity, maintenance, publicity, marketing, staff transport home at night and all artistic projects. This is done through the renting of the spaces and venues and through our fundraising efforts. Unfortunately these aforementioned misperceptions have severely compromised our efforts to raise funds.”
There are five simple and effective ways in which the public can become involved with and contribute towards the campaign.
For just R100, there’s a monthly competition for Baxter’s online database of subscribers and Facebook friends with prizes to be won and a grand prize that will be announced at a later date. The first prize up for grabs is a weekend away for two people at a luxury serviced apartment in the historical centre of Stellenbosch. The winner will be announced on Friday, June 2. Terms and conditions are available on the website.
The Baxter Theatre Centre endeavours to keep ticket prices below R150. Another simple and quick way to contribute is through on-line booking via Computicket. When buying tickets on the Computicket website there is the option of donating an extra R10 or R20, each time a booking is made.
A Snapscan payment option has also been introduced, so donating can now be done by using a smartphone. The QR code can be found throughout the Baxter’s foyers or on the website.
Donations of any amount can be made by visiting the Baxter’s website where there is a ‘Donate’ icon on the homepage, making it easy and simple to give generously.
The Name-a-seat possibility offers the public the opportunity to join their stories with the many that are told at the Baxter Theatre. Every plaque has a story. Name-a-seat makes an ideal birthday, anniversary or retirement gift, or a very special tribute in memory of a loved one. More details are available on the website.
The final option is ideally targeted at the corporate and business sectors who wish to align their brands with the Baxter’s vision and success and in turn, create additional exposure to larger diverse audience. The theatre is widely regarded as trailblazer at the forefront of the performing arts, both as a popular venue and as a leading award-winning producer. That means that benefits that stretch far beyond the signage will include constant exposure to over 2000 patrons who visit the theatre daily. Should any businesses want to take up this opportunity they can contact the Baxter’s CEO, Lara Foot. All contributions to the Baxter are eligible for Tax Deductions under Section 18A of the Income Tax Act.
The public is invited to take up the opportunity of ensuring that the Baxter Theatre Centre remains a crucial and vibrant venue for generations to come.