History & Background


Zip Zap was founded in Cape Town in 1992, to inspire young people and help build a new culture of peaceful coexistence in South Africa. Working with a diverse community of children from all backgrounds, Zip Zap helps kids to ‘dare to dream’ and learn to make those dreams a reality. Zip Zap’s programs are all free to participants, with financial and material support coming from individuals, organization, corporations and foundations. In South Africa and the world, Zip Zap is recognized across Governments, Ministries of Education, Tourism, Arts & Culture and private societies, as a major contributor to the development within the iconic ‘Mother City’ and providing sustainability of the circus arts in South Africa.

Zip Zap is dedicated to supporting and conducting training in circus arts and performance as a powerful tool for social transformation, youth empowerment, team building and community upliftment. The programs provide opportunities for young South Africans from very different backgrounds to play, learn and live together using the medium of circus training and performance to model and demonstrate the possibility of true coexistence.

Zip Zap operates predominantly within the Western Cape. However, as the annual calendar of events varies from year to year, Zip Zap periodically tours internationally and nationally presenting performances and/or skills transmission programs.

The Zip Zap children have performed for presidents and world leaders. They have done 27 international tours and numerous international media showcases. Kids, who began as six-year-olds swinging from a trapeze tied to a tree, are now professional performing artists working in Europe and North America. Young people who grew up on the streets are now skilled and valued artists and technicians in the entertainment and film industries. Best of all, these kids have become teachers themselves. They are ambassadors and role models for others, demonstrating dramatically to young people and the wider public the possibility of a new way of treating each other.

Zip Zap 24 years of changing people’s lives and we are still homeless

  • 1992 – beginning of Zip Zap
  • 1994 – first tour to Grahamstown
  • 1995 – show for president Mandela 77th birthday and SABC television reports
  • 1996 – first international tour to Denmark
  • 1997 – second international tour to Switzerland and France
  • 1998 – moving to 1’200m² warehouse + performed 150 shows all over the country
  • 1999 – third international tour to Texas, USA to represent South Africa at Sub Saharan Arts Festival
  • 2001 – first professional troupe leaves Zip Zap to perform in France, Belgium, Monte-Carlo, Germany and Sweden
  • 2002 – Zip Zap invited to perform at the prestigious International Circus Festival in Monte-Carlo and in Italy
  • 2003 – Zip Zap goes to Spain biggest TV show “children talent”
  • 2005 – Proudly South African – “Bridge Building of the Year” finalist
  • 2006 – Sappi “Ideas That Matter” winner + performs at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne
  • 2007 – Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain, Paris, France – Nikouline Russian clown award to Joka boys
  • 2008 – set-up of dome in Founders Garden and roof wetting show “Once Upon A Circus”
  • 2009 – Brent van Rensburg winner of the Men’s Health trophy for Public Service + Zip Zap performs for Red Bull in Austria
  • 2010 – Zip Zap creates “Art of Rock” with the Parlotones in the dome
  • 2011 – Creation of Zip Zap UK, registered charity - Brent van Rensburg Mayor’s Medal for Youth Affairs
  • 2012 – Zip Zap produces Art of Rock 2 with Freshlyground and Paul du Toit in the dome for 5’000 people + Laurence Estève Knight of the National Order of Merit from French government
  • 2013 – 2013 Pan-African Awards winner for Entrepreneurship in Education 2013 (10’000 USD)
  • 2014: relaunch of Zip Zap full time vocational training programme Dare to Dream

  • 2015: Zip Zap runs 9 different projects reaching 1’400 youth
  • 2016: The Zip Zap Academy gets off the ground
  • 2016: Zip Zap performs at the White House
  • 2017: Zip Zap turn 25