Baxter 40/80 campaign

13 Mar 2019 - 09:15



Dear Baxter patrons and friends,

This year is our 40th Birthday and we plan to embark on an exciting and innovative 40/80 campaign. We want to turn a 40-year legacy into an 80-year commitment. I write to all of you to ask that you join me in this campaign, and that you kindly take a few minutes to read my letter, in which I speak about the history of the Baxter, the misperceptions about our finances and funding and our vision of a way forward.

Baxter’s History

The Baxter Theatre Centre, designed by Jack Barnett, opened on 1 August 1977. It came into being as the result of a bequest from the late Dr W. Duncan Baxter who, in his will, bequeathed an amount of money to the University of Cape Town for the purpose of establishing a theatre which would, in the words of Dr Baxter, “develop and cultivate the arts in Cape Town and the adjacent districts for all artists”.

Dr John Kani wrote “The Baxter Theatre opened its doors during the most difficult time of our history in our country.  There were no theatres in Cape Town in the 1980s that would take the risk of presenting works by black artists. The Baxter Theatre became the only theatre that allowed the alternative voice to be heard especially from the black communities. Because of the Baxter Theatre’s fortunate location, situated inside the grounds of the University of Cape Town, they could present and produce the so called Protest Theatre plays. Both Sizwe Banzi is Dead and the Island played for many seasons at the Baxter Theatre to all the surrounding communities of the Western Cape. The Baxter Theatre created the exchange corridor with other main theatres in South Africa”.

Architect Barnet wanted to design a theatre that embodied a South African spirit and culture, but we must remember that at the time, South Africa was much divided. A theatre like the Baxter couldn’t just cater for whites only, it had to embrace all the people of Cape Town, which at the time was difficult due to the laws that were enforced. The entertainment act of 1931 introduced legal censorship, the Publication and Entertainment Act of 1963 segregated black and white audiences unless under special licences. To build the Baxter in the city centre meant that black people couldn’t access it, and that is why the University of Cape Town became a strategic location and venue for a theatre for all.

William Duncan Baxter left an amount of R553 866. This bequest was split between building the premises and establishing a permanent endowment fund for the Baxter’s activities that has grown, via fundraising efforts, to currently earn R2 567 650 in interest per annum.

Financial situation and misperceptions!

A number of people believe that the Baxter theatre is a state-funded theatre. This is not true, we receive no funding from the National government or from the National Lotteries Commission. The Baxter 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 (this is something I have been fighting, to no avail, for several years).

There is an added misperception that the Baxter is funded entirely by UCT. This 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 misperceptions have severely compromised our efforts to raise funds.

In light of the above we are going all-out with the 40/80 campaign, where we ask you, the people of Cape Town, to help us raise money for what is essentially the people’s theatre. These funds are allocated to our endowment fund to secure a vibrant and crucial theatre for our future audiences and artists.

We have a number of exciting and innovative ways in which we are asking you to invest in our future. Please allow me to share these initiatives with you:


DONATE VIA SNAPSCAN: Do you know what Snapscan is? Well I didn’t but I am learning fast. In keeping up with the times and to make donating as easy as possible for you, we have joined Snapscan, so you can now donate using only your phone – no need to carry cash, worry about your card being skimmed or fill in a lengthy donations form. You can find Baxter’s Snapscan code in our foyers and galleries, on our website, or you can find it above this text in the header.

This funding goes into our Permanent Endowment Fund along with Duncan Baxter’s legacy. If you don’t know how to use Snapscan watch this video on YouTube here (installing Snapscan) and here (paying with Snapscan).

DONATE ONLINE: If you would like to make a donation to the Baxter click here. This funding forever yields in interest, securing our funding in our Permanent Endowment Fund.

NAME-A-SEAT: When you Name-A-Seat, you join your story to the many that are told in our beautiful theatre. Every plaque on the back of a seat has a story – some clear, others less so. We invite you to Name-A-Seat and join your story to ours. Your donation will make a real difference to our work and ensure that future generations continue to enjoy the productions and opportunities of our beautiful theatre. Naming a seat makes an ideal birthday, anniversary or retirement gift, or a very special tribute in memory of a loved one. Buy one now online, or click here for more information.

NAMING RIGHTS are available for:

  • The Baxter Main Theatre
  • The Baxter Concert Hall
  • The Zabalaza Festival
  • The Baxter Dance Festival

Stand out from the crowd…through naming rights, your company is able to immediately elevate its brand above the competition; aligning yourself with a theatre centre that is at the forefront of the performing arts, both as a popular venue and as a leading award-winning producer. By placing your brand with the Baxter, you are opening the door to a powerful, multifaceted marketing platform with dynamic, out-the-box marketing and exposure opportunities. Benefits that stretch far beyond just the signage include constant exposure to over 2 000 patrons from diverse racial, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds that visit the Baxter daily. All contributions to the Baxter will go into the Baxter Endowment Fund and are eligible for Tax Deductions under Section 18A of the Income Tax Act.

If you are interested in acquiring naming rights please contact me directly on

We look forward to your support and encourage you to share this with all you friends and contacts so that we can achieve our goal and continue to offer the people of Cape Town, award-winning and vital productions and performances. Thank you for your time.

Lara Foot
CEO and Artistic Director
Baxter Theatre Centre