African Tour Circuit (ATC), established by African Synergy Trust in Johannesburg and Harare, organizes performing arts tours, linking touring African artists with venues and festivals in a “tour circuit”. This responds to the major challenges that face performing artists in Africa in accessing the African public and developing new audiences: costs of air travel, visa constraints and poor information, promotion and communication between African countries. These constraints hamper the development of the sector to an extent where even major artists are unknown across borders.
The objectives are to facilitate intra-African cultural exchange through the first African “tour circuit” of venues, festivals and institutions, to organize performing arts tours, linking touring African artists with venues and festivals, offering hundreds of artist’s new exposure to cross-border African audiences. ATC does not simply fund tour costs; it aims to manage, plan and coordinate, across a wide range of partners, all aspects that lead to a successful tour. It facilitates contracts and agreements, negotiations and professional/technical elements, leading to a reduction of costs and better efficiency. It utilizes multiple sources of funding to meet the costs of any specific tour, including income from box office, small scale travel grants, resources available from the host country or venue, artist resources, and partnership with festivals and agencies. ATC is also engaged in many new forms of arts collaboration within Africa (workshops, joint performances), bringing artists together and promoting diversity, especially among young artists.
In 2009, African Tour Circuit undertook 40 projects, comprising 36 performing arts tours (up from 16 in 2008), one study/work experience tour (Denmark, Roskilde), and two network-building activities (Gabon, Mozambique).