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About PACE

1 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Report, 2010, quoted in Van Graan, Mike, ’African Creative Industries, the Sleeping Giant’, Anver Versi (edt.), African Business, No 405, London, February 2014, p 16. 2 Badamasuiy, Sakina The case for investing in Africa’s creative industries, Afrimind, 5 Apr, 2013  africas-creative-industries.html 3  Sustainable Development Goals for Culture on the 2030 Agenda, (accessed 16 November 2016). ‘The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development marks a substantial step forward for sustainable development in many fields, and particularly for culture as it is the first time that the international development agenda refers to culture within the framework of Sustainable Development Goals related to education, sustainable cities, food security, the environment, economic growth, sustainable consumption and production patterns, peaceful and inclusive societies.’ 

The Pan-African Creative Exchange (PACE), initiated by the Vrystaat Arts Festival, is a biennial arts market and showcase for African & African-diaspora artists, developed for national and international presenters, producers and festival directors, providing the highest quality inter-disciplinary arts product (theatre, dance, music, craft etc) from Africa, to buyers, artists and the general public. There are eight aspects to PACE including presenting full shows for tour-ready work; showcasing excerpts of tour-ready work; showcasing excerpts of work in progress; pitching new work; producers shadowing and exchange program; workshops and critical debate/round table sessions; networking programs; and key PACE events.


PACE was developed in response to recent data indicating that the creative industries in Africa contribute less than 1% to the global creative economy. 1. As increased access to and participation in culture can be linked to an increase in human development, Africa must shift its focus to support more innovative cultural programs that can creatively transform its society. 2. Culture has also been embedded in several of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which further assist cultural visibility from Africa. 3.


Examples of other successful performing arts markets include Decibel Performing Arts Showcase in the UK, Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM), Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) & Informal European Theatre Meeting (IETM), Performa NYC, International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) Showcase, and the British Council Showcase.


Goals & Objectives

• The performing arts in Africa developed and promoted through the presentation of a multi-faceted performing arts event in the Free State for international presenters and producers.  

• African artists, their work, ideas and learning developed, presented and toured.

• Awareness raised about innovative and talented artists and companies in Africa with diverse practices.  

• Attendance of national and international delegates such as promoters, artistic directors, programmers, venue managers, presenters and others with the ability to book work or collaborate/partner/co-produce in development.  

• Dialogue and critical debate facilitated to raise the profile and quality of diverse artists and their practices.  

• Promotion of a greater understanding of the diversity of cultural expression in the international arena.  

• Knowledge transferred between artists and their work on the national and international arena, fostering ongoing development of innovative work and collaboration.  
• Information exchanged between international funders, promoters and presenters about policy and practice.  

• Connections forged between the growing creative and cultural industries in Africa and international partners worldwide.  

• The PACE reinforced as a world-class, business-to-business event that reflects the wider global cultural significance of the creativity of diverse practices in Africa.

Social & Economic Context

Social development requires creativity, a diversity of creative expressions, the arts and cultural heritage as a means of education, social cohesion, intercultural dialogue and the building of national identity.  

Investment in PACE would generate jobs in the creative industries, of particular importance in the Free State, where unemployment is more than 33,9%. Participating African countries would also benefit from work sold to, and awareness raised with international presenters and producers.   

Some examples of successful 2018 PACE & 2019 PACE+ networking outcomes include:  
• The Little Prince from the Market Theatre touring to the Kennedy Centre (United States of America) in 2019/2020.

• Cion by Vuyani Dance Theatre (South Africa) touring extensively internationally.  

• Abdouley Diallo’s Pollution (Senegal) travelling to the Woordfees in Stellenbosch (South Africa)

• Bridezilla from Lagos Fringe (Nigeria) travelling to the Woordfees in Stellenbosch (South Africa)

• A new work Tree, based on the life of Nelson Mandela with Idris Alba, Gregory Maqoma & Kwame Kwei-Armah debuted at the Manchester International Arts Festival after Kwei-Armah saw Maqoma’s Cion at PACE in 2018.  

• Lagos Fringe (Nigeria), Salamanca Arts Centre, (Australia), Brighton Fringe (UK) and Vrystaat Vrynge (South Africa) partnerships 2019.

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The Vrystaat Kunstefees • Arts Festival • Tsa-Botjhaba

The Vrystaat Arts Festival is an Afrikaans language festival that forges creative connections with Sesotho and English cultures and other national and international creatives.  

The festival has an enormous artistic offering for 2022. From flagship Afrikaans, English and Sesotho theatre and music productions to experimental dance, craft, sound art, visual art and live art, visitors will be spoilt for choice. 

The Vrystaat Arts Festival is now one of the key arts festivals on the African continent and offers a significant range of national and international work. In addition to a large contingent of South African artists, the festival will host creatives from as far afield as Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, Chad, the Caribbean, eSwatini, France, The Gambia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Malawi, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Singapore, Tanzania, the UK, the US, Zambia and Zimbabwe (to name but a few). 

Vision: One festival. Many stories.

Mission: To support the development and presentation of great art in the Free State for all.

Goals: We bring people together. We support great art. We develop artists and audiences. We drive innovation. We play in the world stage.

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