Arts and Culture Facilities

Arts and Culture Centres

There are three (3) arts and culture centres in the Free State, namely;

  • Mmabana Arts & Culture Centre, ThabaNchu
  • Lejweleputswa Arts & Culture Centre, Thabong/Welkom
  • Fezile Dabi Arts & Culture Centre, Zamdela/Sasolburg

These centres provide different arts and culture programmes and training, including visual and performing art to local communities and artists. In an effort to advance the impact of Arts and Culture Centres, the Department procured technical equipment (sound systems, mobile stages and lighting) for these Centres. This is aimed at assisting community-based artists to practice their art through district-based festivals to be organized by the Centres. The theatre lighting and sound at Mmabana Centre has been upgraded to make the theatre accessible and usable for artists and beneficiaries of the Centre.

The Mmabana Cultural Centre situated in ThabaNchu pro-actively seeks to create and develop an environment in which the unfolding of natural talents can be optimally realized. Apart from the Art faculty, it offers quilting and sewing, dance, sport, drama and music – all at a nominal fee. This Arts and Culture Centre, was established in terms of the Mmabana Cultural Foundation Act, 1987. It was taken over from the North West Provincial Government on 1 April 1998.Mmabana Cultural Centre renders tuition in both the performing and visual arts as well as an Inter-Choral Festival, cultural events, gymnastics and youth activities. It also has Early Learning Classes.

At the Lejweleputswa Arts and Culture Centre activities include sewing, crafts, poetry and dance are presented. Classes are given in dance, specifically Hip hop, Traditional and Modern Dancing. Sewing classes are also provided at the Centre. Concerts showcasing the performing arts are held on a monthly and quarterly basis. In the year 2000 Lejweleputswa Arts and Culture Centre started offering Ballroom and Latin Dance and also successfully staged the Provincial Dance Champions Competition. Since 2008 the Centre has embarked on Ballroom and Latin Dance for People with Disabilities within Matjhabeng Local Municipality and the broader Lejweleputswa District Municipality. Amongst its key objectives the Centre aims to promote ballroom and Latin dancing as a social activity within Matjhabeng and Lejweleputswa broadly.

Fezile Dabi Arts and Culture Centre, established in September 1999, is situated in the most disadvantaged township of Zamdela in Sasolburg. Since its inception the Centre has been playing a pivotal role in the development of young and senior residents of Zamdela through the presentation of various arts and culture programmes, including craft.

Contact Details

Mmabana Cultural Centre

Mr. Thapelo Motshabi
Physical Address: Cnr 103 & 104 Market Square, Thaba-Nchu
Telephone Number: 051-875 1640/4
Fax Number: 051 -875 1010

Lejweleputswa Arts & Culture Centre 

Ms. Moipone Mokhutle-Moroka
Physical Address: 8366 Constantia Road, Thabong, Welkom 9463

Telephone Number: 057-355 6757

Fezile Dabi Arts & Culture Centre:

Mr. Japhta Makhalemele
Telephone Number: 016-974 9108


The Free State Musicon is a music training institution that falls under the auspices of the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture & Recreation. As an academy of music, this institution provides certified music tuition. External examinations are conducted by the Royal Academy of Schools and Trinity College of London (UNISA and internal exams). Originally established in terms of the Education Act, the Musicon was transferred from the Free State Department of Education to the then Department of Sport, Arts, Culture, Science and Technology with effect from 1 December 1998. The Musicon provides music tuition in the following instruments: violin, cello, double bass, flute, recorder, saxophone, bassoon, oboe, keyboard, piano and guitar. Voice tuition is also available. Students wishing to apply for tuition should visit the Musicon at least three weeks before the end of the current school term, in order to apply to be auditioned at the beginning of the next school term. Individual classes are given to students.

The MUSICON, situated in First Avenue, Bloemfontein, serves as the music training institution of the Free State. Music training ranges from instrument to choral music. The Mangaung Strings Programme, which is one of the flagship programmes of the Province, is offered through this institution. The introduction of choral music under the auspices of the MUSICON has seen the rebirth and blossoming of this music genre in the Province with choral music competitions and festivals being staged continuously.

Contact Details

Dr. Theo Dzorkpey
Address: First Avenue, Westdene, Bloemfontein
Telephone Number: 051-430 8831
Fax Number: 086 212 4890

Mangaung String Programme

The Mangaung String Programme is a string music development programme initiated by the Free State Musicon in July 1997 under the directorship of the well renowned musician, Peter Guy. The programme targets children from historically disadvantaged backgrounds from the greater Bloemfontein area, predominantly Mangaung but has recently been expanded to other parts of the Province.


Tuition takes place in group formats at a number of primary schools in Mangaung in the mornings and then continues with more specialized tuition at the Free State Musicon in the afternoons. Orchestras practice on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings at the Musicon. Tuition is provided by staff members of partnering institutions in addition to music students and interns from within the programme, as well as hourly tuition based on sponsorship.

The Programme operates a bus service, which runs six (6) days a week. There are four (4) orchestras, based on ability which all use the name Bochabela. The Bochabela String Orchestra, which is the senior orchestra made up of high school and university age students rehearses on Saturdays and the Bochabela Intermediate Orchestra, the Bochabela Junior Orchestra as well as the Bochabela Beginner Orchestra all practice on Friday afternoons. There are currently over 450 pupils in the Mangaung String Programme.

Rural Outreach

In 2009, the Mangaung String Programme expanded the programme to the rural southern Free State, two hours out of Bloemfontein. Once a week a senior instructor and 3 junior instructors travel the four hour return journey to the towns of Phillipolis, Trompsburg, Springfontein and Edenburg. Tuition takes place at various primary and high schools during and after school hours. There are currently 100 pupils receiving tuition. The progamme has also just started with tuition in ThabaNchu, one hour south of Bloemfontein. Plans are in place to expand to include Kroonstad and Bethlehem.


The director has received the Music Achiever of the year award in Johannesburg, as well as twice being nominated for Bloemfonteiner of the Year. He has received a Centenary Medal from the University of the Free State, has been admitted as an honorary member into the Golden Key academic society, in addition to receiving an award for himself and the programme from the Premier of the Free State. In 2010 he received the Friend of Heidedal Award. The programme itself has twice received the best Development Programme Award from the Sanlam Music Competition. All this recognition has been due to the success of the Mangaung String Programme.

In 2009 the Belgian String Orchestra, Violet organised a nationwide fundraising initiative, called the ‘Buskers for Bochabela’ with the support of radio channel Klara, Jeugd en Muziek Vlaanderen and the Music Academies of Flanders. They not only raised almost 50.000€, they also inspired hundreds of young and older musicians to go on the streets and play music for others, for a bigger cause. Violet received a Special Award for this project from the International Music Council (Unesco). During the fundraising, a group of 18 musicians from the Programme also went to Belgium. They played concerts all over Flanders together with the Violet orchestra. The Programme recently featured in the September issue of the international music magazine The Strad as well as being written up in a United Nations Journal of Music and Society.


Due to the popularity of the Programme we have started employing our older learners to help us teach the younger pupils. This has proved immensely successful. The younger children have a difficult concept explained in their mother tongue, they have a role model they can relate to and we get excellent young teachers who grew up in the Programme, who understand the group and cultural dynamics. Our young teachers receive a substantial confidence boost as well as a stipend to help them make ends meet. Two young musicians are also learning basic instrument and bow repairs.


While the Provincial Government pays for two senior instructors, the University of the Free State also sponsors 25 hours of specialized individual tuition. A link with the Free State Symphony Orchestra also makes it possible for the most advanced pupils to also receive individual tuition. The Programme’s Trust provides modest stipends to our 9 junior instructors. The Mangaung String Programme also has a one year volunteer from Belgium who is assisting with all aspects related to the programme on the establishment.


The Mangaung String Programme has received support over the past few years from the South African Music Rights Organization (SAMRO), the Community Services Department of the University of the Free State, the Belgian Youth Orchestra Violet, the Zaventum School in Belgium, the International School Brussels, Music in die Piano Forte in Austria, Fractured Atlas in the USA and the FirstRand Foundation which gave us a grant to buy our 30 seater bus and the National Lotteries Distribution Board.


The very public face of the Mangaung String Programme is the Bochabela String Orchestra. This orchestra, made up of the best students of the Programme, performs a wide variety of music from baroque to traditional and popular African music. The Bochabela String Orchestra performs for government, corporate and community functions. Many of these performances are a practical way to raise funds for bursaries, to attend music festivals, national orchestra courses, tours and orchestra camps.

The orchestra has appeared widely throughout South Africa on all national television stations as well as performing in numerous music festivals and youth orchestra courses, which include the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, the MIAGI Youth Orchestra course, the South African National Youth Orchestra as well as appearing on Belgium and Austrian television. In February 2009, members of the orchestra undertook a successful tour of Belgium and made a return tour to Austria and Belgium during December 2010. Most recently the programme has featured on the Afrikaans television programme Pasella and currently a documentary for China television (CCTV) is being made.


Six former pupils are now members of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra in Durban. Regomoditswe Thothela is co-principal double bass with the Johannesburg Philharmonic. Ruan Baartman is a full scholarship student at the prestigious Menuhin School in London. John Minnaar is an instructor at the Kimberley Academy of Music. In 2010, Bonolo Kgaile won the SANLAM Competition. She was the first black student to win this prestigious competition for young musicians. At the same SANLAM Competition, the progamme also won a cash prize for the best development programme. Thapelo Masita, (cello) won the string category with the Arts Cape Competition and performed as soloist with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Bochabela String Orchestra has recorded a CD of popular African and Classical favorites as well as recording with the Violet Orchestra in Belgium. A film crew from Austria is currently busy producing a documentary about the progamme for distribution in Europe. Undoubtedly the most successes are those least seen. These are the children who through discipline, have built their self-esteem, have taken responsibility and have a sense of purpose and who have managed to stay in school, stay off the dusty streets of Mangaung and go on to be productive citizens and make healthy life choices.

Contact Details

Mr. Peter Guy

Address: Free State Musicon, First Avenue, Westdene, Bloemfontein
Telephone Number: +27 837 031 554
Fax Number: +27 865 119 781

Video Links

Performing Arts Council of the Free State (PACOFS)

The Department partners with performing houses such as PACOFS to roll-out several arts and culture programmes such as the Mangaung African Cultural Festival (MACUFE). The Department signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with PACOFS to continue the partnership in the development of the arts in the province. This MOU will see the department and PACOFS presenting drama productions based on Grade 12 set work.