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Apollo Theater 1910 -2016 and beyond...

The Victoria West Town Hall was built during 1910-1911 that gave Vos the opportunity rent the hall from November 1911 for seven shows per month. Vos was allowed by municipal council to leave his equipment in the hall but had to move it to another room when the venue was hired out for other events and functions,


It was an era of new developments in Victoria West and Willie Kempen, Mayor of Victoria West involved Gauvouras a man from Greek decent to manage he Good Hope Café (where the Apollo Theatre is situated today).Unfortunately Gauvouras died tragically after a short stay in Victoria West.


Willie Kempen requested the assistance of a Mr. Alberts, hotel owner from Upington to find someone who could replace Gauvouras. Mr Alberts recommended Andrew Bassil who came from Greece to South Africa and found himself in Upington, when Alberts received the request from Kempen.

Bassil arrived in Victoria West with the task to manage the Good Hope Café. Bassil could not speak or understand a word in English and taught himself English by reading The Capé Argus and The Capé Times.

Bassil became a flourishing business man owning a café, bioscope and hotels. He has extended the Good Hope Café and furnished part of the building as a bioscope.


In 1956, Bassil demolished the outdated Good Hope Café, and a new modern café, shop and bioscope arise on the site of the old Good Hope Café. New equipment, durable curtains and comfortable chairs were installed. When Phillip Vos saw the new building he remarked that the “old rubbish café was transformed into a place of glass and marble. The Apollo Theatre Complex was established.


A lifestyle created by Bassil came to an end when the Apollo Theatre closed its doors in 1981.


The Apollo Theatre was declared a heritage site by the National Monuments Council.


ADA Experiment 1998-2007


The Apollo Development Association

The ADA was established in February 1998 as a Section 21 company. Prior to its establishment, the general idea behind the envisaged association was to build a local economic development endeavour around the potential of a disused Art-Deco cinema in the centre of Victoria West. During 2001, the ADA was registered as a Section 21 Company with the Registrar of Companies, and also as a non-profit organisation with the Department of Social Development.



The ADA was founded and managed by David and Gail

Robbins, who moved from Johannesburg and settled in Victoria West in 1998. David Robbins is a well-known writer on travel and socio-economic issues, while Gail Robbins is an event’s organiser.



The ADA initiated a number of community development activities.

 Annual Film Festivals became a tourism attraction and also contributed to new skills being transferred to people in the community.



The ADA Experiment illustrated the dynamics of the macro socio economic and socio political society of South Africa on micro level with the close up experience during the period 1998 to 2007. 


The dormant era 2008 -2015


The governance structure of the Apollo Development Association started to crumble and soon became illegitimate and properly instituted reporting structures ceased to exit.

 After an investigation by the Northern Cape Provincial Department of Sports, Arts and Culture the Project Report concluded (quote):


“As a provincial department the DSAC is the custodian of arts and culture development in the province through a legislative framework that guides its operations; as a result the department has a legislative mandate on provision of sound operational systems over its agencies, institutions and facilities; and is broadly responsible for effective, efficient, economical and transparent use of its resources in regard to internal financial risk management processes. It is against this backdrop that the DSAC has interest in the revival of the Apollo Theater as the only arts and culture oriented NPO located in Victoria West.”


The revival of the Apollo Development Association and Apollo Thereat 2016


During 2016 the Ubuntu Forum for Socio Economic Development (UFSED) was established and founded by the mandates of community members representing the broader communities of Victoria West, Loxton and Richmond.

UFSED identified a number of Action Groups to deal with challenges and opportunities to create economic value which can lead to social progress to benefit the civil society of the region.

The Conservation and Tourism Action Group is one of such an action group.

This group immediately started with a number of workshops and developed a strategic plan including the revival of the Apollo Development Association and the Apollo Theatre.


In less than two years the following milestones on the road to recovery can be reported.


  • Re-registration of the company at the Department of Trade and Industries

  • Re-appointment of a legitimate Board Members

  • Re-appointment of a legitimate Board of Directors

  • Restoration of the Apollo Theater and buildings forming part of the complex

  • Implementation of a Strategic Recovery Plan

  • Hosting of a première screening of the film “Jagveld” by the well known author and film maker Deon Meyer.

  • Film screening events over long weekends with a play on stage performed by talented local youth

  • Film screenings during October school break to educate, inspire and entertain the youth and local community

  • Number of seminars and training sessions

  • Functions and reunions

  • Private and group film screenings


The objective and current planning is directed to re-establish a prestigious Apollo Annual Film Festival, bid for international industry focused film festivals, and attract emerging filmmakers to utilize the Apollo Theater complex as a workplace for industry development, use the venue to create unique film experiences and leisure events for tourists and guests from neighboring towns .

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